No police officer friends for me, then

Why are journalists worthier of suspicion than people who want to hide things?

Share

Here are some friendships that police officers do not have to disclose. Friendships with politicians. Friendships with senior media executives. Friendships with business people, lawyers, judges, and press officers. Here are some that they do have to disclose. Friendships with criminals. Friendships with suspects. Friendships with private detectives. And, as per the College of Policing’s new guidelines, friendships with journalists.

These aren’t, let’s note, working relationships. These are friendships. So let’s say a police officer’s best mate at school went on to work at a newspaper. She goes on the list. Let’s say she married a reporter. He goes on the list. Let’s say her son is an editorial assistant at Nuts, or The Lady, or Computer Shopper. So does he. They are all, so says the College of Policing, “notifiable associations”. The paragraph concerning such associations in the new guidelines is short, and entirely lacking in explanation of how they will be used. But it is safe to assume that it’s not to help with the invitations for the next Christmas party.

You’ll think this biased, maybe, but it seems to me that there’s a category error here. Even at our very worst, after all – which, yes, can be pretty bad – journalists are still fundamentally trying to find things out; and yet, if the police are to be believed, they are more inherently worthy of suspicion than members of any number of other professions who are very likely to want to keep things covered up.

There are, of course, circumstances in which a particular officer’s professional relationship with the press might reasonably be subjected to scrutiny. But to extend that logic to personal relationships is not only excessive, and invasive: it smacks of ignorance. Police officers – and, indeed, journalists – should be able to make friends without declaring them unless there is a very good argument to the contrary. And no one who has seen how journalists really work – which is not by pumping their friends and family for scoops, but instead by cultivating the trust of the people who know the most about their beat – could possibly think that the mere existence of a reporter in a police’s social circle is in itself reason for suspicion.

The College of Policing could argue, I guess, that the paragraph in question is so innocuous that only the paranoid, or guilty, could see a threat in it. But it’s that very baldness that is scary. It suggests that the cops can be obliged to disclose their private lives for no good reason. I am, accordingly, relieved not to be among them, and I suppose I will reluctantly shy away from their friendship in future, and try my best to avoid marrying one. The rest of us don’t live in a police state. But they certainly do.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Test Analyst

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Tes...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Bengal tiger captured by a camera trap in Nepal  

Save the tiger: The success of the Bengal tiger in Nepal shows you can make a difference

Harvey Day
Ed Miliband, talks image politics with Andrew Marr  

Ed Miliband’s Question Time ripoff: Another proposal about style, not substance

Bobby Friedman
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried