There has been much ado in the past
week over the RCIPS’ decision to restrict times when information about crime is
available to the press, and through it, to the general public.
This new development has led to
hysterical headlines in some media about police ‘going quiet’ on crime, or
claims of ‘shutting out’ the press. In our view, that’s taking it a bit far.
But let us state clearly, we
believe this decision to restrict press communications by whoever made it – we
hope it was really the police and not someone higher up in the government
bureaucracy – is a mistake.
It is not in keeping with the
spirit of Freedom of Information. It will probably serve to create more public
suspicion and distrust of the police service, to the ultimate detriment of
community policing efforts.
We also believe the decision will
lead to more misinformation in news coverage. But in the end, that last issue
is not the police service’s problem – it is ours.
What rankles is the statement
provided by the RCIPS about “valuing their relationship” with the media.
If that were true, it is reasonable
to assume one’s “valued” relation would be asked for their input or suggestions
on the policy that it must work with. Or at the very least, said “valued” relation
would be informed prior to such a policy taking effect.
This did not happen with any of the
news organisations in Cayman that we are aware of. In fact, it seems that –
once again – the media is being treated as an enemy to be feared or scorned,
not a partner one has a relationship with.
We don’t know what can be done to
change this situation, but neither the press nor the police will serve the
community to the best of their respective abilities until it does.