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National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists

Volume 690: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2021

Today, the Government will publish the UK’s first “National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists”. This ambitious document is intended to ensure that journalists operating in the UK can do so free from abuse, violence and threats of harm. This Government are committed to a free and open media. In order to protect this, journalists must be free to carry out their vital roles free from threats and violence. Threats to journalists’ safety are not just threats to individuals—such threats lead to journalists leaving the profession, and to self-censorship of those that remain. Without action in this area, there will be less challenge to those in power, and weaker democracy. This work is critical in its own right, and it will also serve to support the ongoing work by the Government to tackle intimidation in public life. An update on this is also being published today.

The plan has been produced by members of the National Committee for Safety of Journalists, established in 2020, chaired by relevant Home Office and DCMS Ministers, and comprising representatives of police and prosecutors from across the UK, as well as publishers, broadcasters, groups representing journalists and non-governmental organisations.

It focuses on five key areas: increasing our understanding of the problem; enhancing the criminal justice system response in tackling crimes against journalists; supporting journalists and their employers to build the resources they need to protect personal safety; helping online platforms to tackle the wider issue of online abuse, and improving public recognition of the value of journalists. It makes a range of commitments from the Government, law enforcement agencies and industry. These include a plan to launch a call for evidence into the scale of the threats facing journalists, the police working with the National Council for the Training of Journalists to provide training on police operations for journalists and the provision of guidance to help journalists understand the law in this area by the Media Lawyers Association.

The committee will hold its members to account for the delivery of these commitments while the action plan and its impact will be reviewed regularly and updated if and when appropriate.

A copy of the action plan will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-03-09/HCWS831/.

[HCWS831]