News gatherers are key workers. That was made clear by HM Government during the original COVID-19 lockdown and our Police forces acknowledged the vital role media workers play by recognising the UK Press Card Authority’s official Press Card as sufficient evidence that the holder is a working journalist.
Members of The British Press Photographers’ Association and their colleagues with UK Press Cards issued by other bodies were regarded with contempt by a significant number of officers of the Metropolitan Police Service as they repeatedly failed to recognise carriers of the UKPCA card, harassing and threatening them with arrest for non-compliance of lockdown rules as they covered the Million Mask demonstration in central London on 5th November.
At a time when HM Government and the emergency services of the UK continue to rely heavily upon the free press as trusted sources of vital public information during the COVID-19 pandemic, for officers to bully and inhibit working press photographers is both irrational and counterproductive.
The BPPA welcomes the apology to the Society of Editors but we are still concerned that MPS staff members are either ignorant of the arrangements in place or are deliberately choosing to ignore them.
The BPPA calls upon the Metropolitan Police Service and the National Police Chiefs Council to commit to adhering to governmental instructions regarding the recognition of UK Press Cards and their holders as key workers.