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

h2 Recruit Ltd: Inside Sales Manager - Accountancy Software - £80,000 OTE

£50000 - £60000 per annum + £80,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - BIM Software - £55,000 OTE

£40000 per annum + OTE £55,000 +Pension : h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Commodities Brokers / Sales / Closers / Telesales

£10000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Investment consultancy firm sp...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is recr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
More vegetarian and vegan options are now available for consumers  

The stereotypes around vegetarians and vegans must stop: I've never worn tie-dye, I'm not weak, and I can't stand Morrissey

Liz Cookman
 

You wouldn't give your child untested medicine, so why would you give them an untested education?

Oliver Wright
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital