4. What recent assessment she has made of the level of applications for production orders by police forces. (100220)
Production orders are a valuable tool for the police to use in the investigation of serious crime, but are issued only after careful scrutiny by a circuit judge. Information on the number of production orders made by individual police forces is not collated centrally. We have not, therefore, made any assessment of the level of applications.
The use of production orders by the police, such as in the case of Dale Farm, has the potential to increase risks for journalists as they are, in effect, seen as informers, as well as undermining journalistic independence. The National Union of Journalists is worried that the use of such orders is becoming more common. Will the Minister meet me, other concerned MPs and the NUJ to discuss the issue?
I understand that the National Union of Journalists has mounted an appeal in the courts against the granting of a number of orders, so I hope the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it is difficult for me to comment on the specifics. Our understanding is that only a small minority of production orders are used to obtain journalistic material. The vast majority are made in relation to financial information. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to write to me, I will look into the specifics that he highlighted.