It is almost impossible for local media to verify the identity of those killed in mountaineering and hiking accidents in Cumbria, the Society of Editors conference has been told.
Chief executive of the College of Policing Alex Marshall (pictured) accepted questions from editors after briefing them on new guidelines on how police should deal with the media which are in the process of being produced.
One journalist delegate told him: “Our local police force says it is following national guidelines not to name people and transfer us to the coroner. The coroner doesn’t allow himself or his officers to talk to the media
“Somebody can fall off a mountain and be helicoptered to Preston [hospital] and there is no way to relate the person who has died to the person who has fallen off the mountain.”
They said that by not revealing the name of the person who had died police were putting people through needless worry.
Marshall said: “My experience is police will name people once family and friends have been informed.” He said it was his understanding that this is was what happened with fatal road traffic accidents, but said he would look at the matter in his review of College of Policing media guidelines.
Marshall was also asked about the issue of former Croydon Advertiser reporter Gareth Davies who was given a police information notice (PIN) harassment warning for “doing his job”, in the words of lawyer Tony Jaffa. The notice was only rescinded after publisher Local World took the Met Police to judicial review.
Jaffa asked whether the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Met had written to the Royal College of Policing to request a review of PINS, as they had agreed to do.
Marshall said he did not know, in answer to the first part of the question, but that he said that guidance on PINs had been reviewed and would be issued before the end of this year (although he said that it does not specifically mention journalists).