Longer online version; see re-sub-edited PDF

Instruction for riot police in public order situations

What the media need from police

ALL METROPOLITAN POLICE officers will receive written direction about working with journalists when they are deployed on public order events, the NUJ has been assured. The undertaking came during the visit of an NUJ delegation to the Met Police Specialist Training Centre in Gravesend, Essex.

Police riot training

Officers train with petrol bombs

The centre delivers annual practical public order training for the 4000 Met Officers who routinely work at demonstrations and protests. The complex, beside the Thames, comprises a mocked-up urban landscape of streets, shops, sub-standard housing and a tube station.

Trainees, equipped with shields, helmets, fire-retardant uniforms and stab vests, are pelted with abuse, missiles, and petrol bombs. Instructors shout orders and monitor reactions. Lengthy role-played riots include Police horses being goaded to bolt, petrol spayed over the feet of officers and antagonistic masked "protestors".

The NUJ delegation comprised freelance organiser David Ayrton; freelance photographers Hazel Dunlop and Andy Aitchison; BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds; and myself as a National Executive member.

David Ayrton said: "The NUJ has put a lot of work into building our relationship with the Met in recent years. This was a useful opportunity to better understand their operations. Dartford is an extraordinary facility and gives a real sense of the challenges that public-order officers face and the way that they train. It is also a reassurance to know that even when facing volleys of petrol bombs, the media's important role is not too far from their minds."

Police riot training

Officers train with petrol bombs

Hazel Dunlop added: "I've been in some challenging public order situations and have mixed experiences of how the Police deal with the media Watching these simulations made me realise just how terrifying these situations must be for the Police. It is reassuring too to know that the chances of my press card being recognised and respected should be a little bit greater after today."

  • We will present new Metropolitan Police guidelines on officers' dealings with the media as soon as we can. In the meantime, the guidelines agreed by the old Association of Chief Police Officers are here.