Monday 26th June 2006 : Release time immediate
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has asked the Government’s Health and Safety Executive to tackle journalists’ safety by demanding publishers provide safety equipment for reporters and photographers covering stories in potentially violent situations – such as sink estate muggings or soccer riots.
The Institute has, for some time, been concerned about safety, especially where journalists find themselves covering civil disturbances and public order events. In recent times a number of these events have turned violent in an instant and journalists have found themselves targeted by the baying mob.
“Safety training and equipment are essential tools of the trade in the modern environment, ” says Robin Morgan, Chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board. “Employers owe a duty of care to journalists sent to get the stories for their papers, whether they are freelance or staff.”
There are a few good employers who do provide safety training to their journalists, however, there are still a significant number who will not make the commitment without more pressure being applied to convince them of their responsibilities.
The Institute hopes that the HSE will exert its influence to ensure employers are brought to task if they do not have a suitable policy in place to ensure the safety of their employees.
“Hiding behind the employment of a freelance is not an option,” said Barry Beattie, freelance photographer and chairman of the Institute’s Freelance Division. “With the proliferation of knives and even guns on our streets, even making enquiries on an inner city “sink” estate can provoke a violent reaction these days. Employers must make stab proof vests available to photographers/reporters going into dangerous areas.”