The Crime Reporters Association has decided to scrap its annual Christmas drinks with police officers following a boycott of the event last year.
It is the latest symptom of a chill in police-media relations which has coincided with last year's Leveson Inquiry and report.
- November 2, 2018
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Last year, Elizabeth Filkin published a report calling for strict controls on the way police officers interact with journalists. It was adopted by the Met Police which warned officers against drinking with journalists and told them to keep a note of any contacts.
Daily Mail associate news editor Stephen Wright, writing for Mail Online, said: “Every year, until 2012, dozens of senior officers and press officers from the Met – and some provincial forces – would join crime hacks for a festive drink on licensed premises in Victoria. But last year, on the instructions of some very senior officers, there was a mass boycott.”
One senior detective received a text message on his way to the party ordering him not to attend, Wright reports. Dozens of others who would normally go were absent.
Just two officers attended, Wright says, and two senior press officers made “fleeting” appearances.
According to Wright: “How can police officers and staff celebrating Christmas, in an open and transparent way, with crime reporters be deemed unacceptable?
"To think that just eight years ago, the CRA had a special Christmas party to honour the brilliant work done by Met press officers during the July 2005 terror attacks. Again, all open and transparent."
CRA chairman, John Twomey of the Daily Express, told Wright: “Sadly, folllowing the mass snub of our Christmas Party last year, we will not be holding one this festive season.
“It really is an indictment of the current state of police/press relations that so many people boycotted it last year.
“One can only hope that one day soon, someone will see sense at the Yard.”
Wright called on Met police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to lead by example and encourage his officers to have an “adult relationship with crime reporters”.
He notes also that crime reporters used to have an annual football match with senior police officers, before adding: "…the game is no longer played and in the post Leveson chill which still affects police/press relations, I doubt it will ever return."