§ Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has regarding the number of occasions in the past 12 months when the Metropolitan police have invited representatives of the media to accompany police officers on major operations; at what command level decisions are taken to invite a media presence; and what criteria are used in such cases.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
[holding answer 18 October 1989]: I understand from the Commissioner that the position is as follows. Media representatives accompany police officers on a wide variety of operations about which it is not possible to generalise. Arrangements are made centrally or locally by invitation from the police or on request from the media. Figures are not collated centrally, but the number of such arrangements exceeds 750 a year.
Decisions to invite media representatives to witness raids are made by officers of chief superintendent rank or above, in consultation with the Metropolitan police directorate of public affairs.
Invitations to the media are an important part of the Commissioner's policy of encouraging greater public understanding of police operations; are part of his policy of openness; and are an example of the accountability of the police to the public, on whose behalf they operate. The resulting news coverage may act as a deterrent to criminals, and provides independent reporting of events which might, otherwise, attract false and malicious allegations.