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

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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

John Rentoul
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...