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1.6.6 Advice on Dealing with the Media

This chapter was introduced into the Manual in February 2013.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles
  3. Talking to the Media


1. Introduction

This document is aimed at staff in Bolton Council’s Staying Safe, GMP’s PPIU and Health, it provides a short summary of tips on how to deal with the media, especially in cases involving child protection issues and vulnerable young people.

GMP’s Corporate Communications Branch (CCB) and Bolton Council’s Media Team are the main conduits for information to the media and comprise:

  • Press Office (GMP)

    The Press Office deals with specific incidents, court cases and general media inquiries. The Press Office takes the lead in the Branch when there is a major incident;
  • Public Relations (GMP)

    Officers within this Unit support Force priority crime areas, such as drugs, gun crime, volume crime etc by developing and delivering publicity campaigns across a range of channels.

    People within the Branch have considerable media experience, and all have backgrounds in either journalism or public relations;
  • Media Team (Bolton Council)

    The role of the Media Team is to build a positive relationship with the local, regional and national media and improve the external perception of the council. It also defends the reputation of the council when its reputation is at risk. The Team answers media enquiries, provides professional advice on media-handling issues; helps to prepare communications strategies for key initiatives in conjunction with Agency colleagues; organise interviews, photocalls, press conferences and press briefings and ensures communication with the media in all its forms is kept within the law.


2. Principles

  • The Corporate Communications Branch/Media Team must always be contacted for advice before speaking to the media, particularly if it is about a sensitive or controversial matter (e.g. Professional Abuse or Child Abuse);
  • Consideration MUST be given to involving partners at the earliest opportunity in releases of information to the media. In any incident or event involving partner agencies, staff must discuss with their Press Office/Media Team which agency has primacy in providing the information;
  • If a journalist makes a direct approach to staff then the Press Office/ Media Team must be contacted immediately and they will jointly provide the necessary information in line with the media policy;
  • Staff must be open unless there are operational or other legitimate reasons to challenge this. There may be instances where releasing information would breach a duty of confidentiality and such cases should be considered carefully with advice and assistance from the CCB and Media Team;
  • In difficult, sensitive or exceptional cases the CCB and or Media Team will liaise with relevant Senior Officers/Managers and decisions and implications will be discussed with them;
  • GMP and Bolton Council recognises journalistic requirements but also that this may need to be balanced against the wishes of the victim, their relatives or other legitimate groups;
  • All information that is issued must be accurate and should not jeopardise criminal or civil investigations, compromise investigations, put lives at risk or impact inappropriately on people’s right to privacy.


3. Talking to the Media

GMP

All GMP officers and police staff are able to speak to the media if it is about their area of expertise. Any interviewee must be the most appropriate person to talk about the subject and should provide only factual information.

Before speaking to the media, officers and staff below Inspector rank or equivalent should secure the agreement of their line manager. The Press Office should also be informed.

Media interviews should be carried out at a level appropriate to the subject and media interest. National and corporate policy issues will usually be handled by an NPCC rank or officer of Chief Superintendent Level.

Sometimes it may also be useful to have spokespeople from partner agencies to appear alongside police officers. Corporate Communications staff can advise on this.

Bolton Council

The organisation’s policy is that anyone contacted by the media should refer them to the Media Team. Individuals should not handle enquiries themselves without support from the Media Team.

The Media Team will consult with the relevant Senior Manager and agree a statement/response to be released to the media.

The Media Team will also support Council Officers who are speaking on behalf of the Council and no interviews should be undertaken without this support.

For media enquiries where there is Police and Children’s Services involvement it is essential the two media offices liaise with each other.

For further information, please refer to the council’s media policy, which is on the ‘policies’ section of the intranet.

Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Media responses will be co-ordinated by the Communications and Engagement Team. 

The organisations policy is that anyone else receiving an enquiry from the media should:

  • Ascertain the nature of the enquiry, and the name and number of the caller;
  • Promise that the appropriate person will call back;
  • Contact the Communications and Engagement Department at the earliest opportunity by telephone on 01204 462020 or 462026.

All statements to the press will be coordinated by the Communications and Engagement Team and must be agreed at Chief Officer or Safeguarding lead.

In child protection cases or allegations about a person acting in a position of trust must be led and agreed by the Police Press Office. Extreme caution should be taken in such cases to avoid compromising a police investigation. Due to the sensitive nature of these enquiries consideration must be given to the needs of the individual, the victim and their families.

Partner agencies must be consulted on the drafting and checking of statements if they have actual or potential involvement or interest.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Communications Department (Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

All proactive and reactive media relations must go through the department. Out of hours there is an internal escalation process which begins with the switchboard forwarding queries to the relevant on call staff. The department or on call senior manager would formulate the response if appropriate for the Trust to respond, liaising with other staff and agencies as required, taking into account legalities and other issues.

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