Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Cash for answers?

While I was a police officer I gave lots of information to journalists, throughout Fleet Street and the broadcast media. None of them gave me a penny in return; indeed there was never any suggestion that payment might be involved. I suspect that each of them knew me well enough to appreciate that the second payment was even mooted it would be the very last conversation I had with them.

Since I retired I have been paid by a number of media organisations; in every case it has been in return for my commentary, my opinion or technical assistance. I have maintained a rigid stance that I will be paid only for what I create in my mind post-retirement, and that nothing else is on offer.

I sincerely hope that both the serving officers who sold information and the journalists who sanctioned payment will be properly dealt with for the corruption in which they have been complicit. That is necessary if the reputations of these two sometimes competing, sometimes symbiotic, often infuriating but ultimately always essential institutions are to be in any way preserved.

The baby and bath-water interface must be managed carefully. The release of information by officers, as I always did, could and should be encouraged for the sole purpose of furthering the interests of the Police - either to garner public support and confidence in investigations, or to protect, quite properly, the reputation of the service. Any other motivation, especially personal enrichment, must be jumped upon. But do not restrict the very necessary and very useful relationship which most journalists and most police officers employ to such good effect for the public good.

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