Move to right TV crime's wrongs

Home Office guidance is to be sent to producers of television crime dramas to make sure they are "factually accurate", in a campaign ordered by the Prime Minister to "increase publicity for successful police operations".

A Home Office internal document details a campaign by its Communications Directorate (CD) to promote favourable crime figures, a new victims' charter and a report on racial attacks to boost the Government's standing on law and order.

Most controversially, the directorate is to "produce a guide for the makers of series such as The Bill and Cracker which is aimed at ensuring that programmes are factually accurate. This will give contact points for briefing requests and queries on Home Office subjects".

TV producers are likely to resist any attempts by the Government to influence their crime drama programmes to improve its image.

In addition to the proposed guidelines, ministers are considering the revival of the discredited "good news" unit, launched with little success by the NHS in 1993.

Police forces have been asked to provide "good news" stories for the department to publicise. These would be used together with crime figures.

Home Office crime statistics would be used as a "catalyst for coverage". Tours by the Home Secretary would help to stimulate national and local coverage.

The document says that the twice-yearly publication of crime statistics "gives the opportunity to provide the media with examples of force successes". CD and forces brief the media in advance so stories can be prepared, according to a report in today's Guardian. The Home Office was unable to comment last night.