On my Inspector’s course we had a few sessions with a journalist, who did some mock interviews. He impressed on us how easy it was to get officers to say the wrong things. Watching my colleagues (same for me I’m sure) mess up was a salutary experience. He should have been on the CID.

The few times I’ve been on TV also showed me how smoke and mirrors it all was, with editing, out of sequence filming, and slant leaving me with the impression that the media is a powerful tool for good or evil.

Police use the media and need their cooperation, but both sides need to limit their trust. Their agendas are different.

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The police service and the media could in theory work in complete harmony. The police providing appropriate detail to the press so they can print interesting stories which sell papers/advertising. In return the media pass on police requests for information and crime prevention issues etc.

in my experience (retired in 2010) this worked reasonably well with local press and TV because if they printed information that you had provided confidentially then they would be starved of future stories. National media outlets were more difficult and not to be trusted. What did they care about you, your career or reputation, not much at all.

Since I’ve retired it seems that relations with all the media are much more difficult.

Off the record is now off the table to the detriment of both sides and the public, apart from maybe the criminals.....?

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Incisive as ever. No further comment- on or off the record.

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