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Police continue to facilitate media reporting

     Police Director of Operations, Mr Hung Hak-wai, today (July 3) met with the representatives of four journalists associations, including the Hong Kong News Executives¡¦ Association, Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association. He listened carefully to their views regarding the liaison activities with the media initiated since August last year and the press arrangements for the visit of the CPG Leader to Hong Kong between June 29 and July 1.
     The representatives were generally satisfied with the arrangements and they regarded Police¡¦s communication with the media as effective. The parties also recognised the role of the Media Liaison Teams, being the bridge between Police and the media. While helping increase media¡¦s understanding of policing arrangement, the teams also relieve the workload of frontline officers in working with the media, thereby avoiding unnecessary conflicts.

     ¡§Police have done a lot of work before this security operation, including working closely with the relevant government departments and formulating an overall media strategy to facilitate media reporting inside and outside the venues where the events held,¡¨ Mr Hung said.

     Police Public Relations Branch briefed the media on the relevant reporting arrangements beforehand and maintained close liaison with them during the operation.
     ¡§Police will conduct a review of the operation. We will carefully consider the views of the media organizations with a view to further improving similar operations in future,¡¨ he said.    

     Police have conducted a preliminary investigation into the incident involving a reporter covering an event at the cruise terminal in Kowloon Bay on June 30.  The finding of the preliminary investigation revealed that during a visit to the cruise terminal, somebody suddenly shouted loudly at the scene.  A police inspector then instructed police officers standing next to the press area to invite the person concerned to leave the place in order to prevent the order being disturbed.  After understanding the event and ascertaining the person¡¦s identity as a reporter, he was allowed to leave.

     Mr Hung recognised it was a question of judgement in that the inspector had instructed his subordinates to invite the reporter to leave the place.  Up to this moment, the Police have already received two complaints on the incident. The Complaints Against Police Office will investigate the complaints in accordance with the existing mechanism. Should there be any irregularities, we will deal with the case in an impartial manner.  

     ¡§It is only an isolated case. Police once again express regrets over the incident, which has aroused grave concern from the community and the media. The Force and the police officers involved have no intention at all to suppress press freedom,¡¨ he reiterated.   

     In addition, Mr Hung said that Police had completed the review of the press area policy. Under the policy, in principle, it is not necessary to designate a press area in public place where other members of the public are allowed free access, unless the designation of such area may give a vantage point for the news media to facilitate their coverage. In such case, reporters are still free to move in and out of that press area.

     In circumstances where the public may not be allowed free access in public place such as in the Border Close Area and the Airport Restricted Area; during security operations or ceremonial events; or when a police cordon is set up for operational or investigative purpose in a crime scene, a traffic accident or other emergency incident, Police would consider setting up a designated press area to facilitate media coverage.

     If a designated press area is set up outside a police cordon, reporters will expect to have the right to move freely in and out of the press area. If the reporters' movements are to be confined within the press area, the commander will communicate the reasons to the reporters there and then or notify the media through PPRB.

     When Police consider necessary and practicable to set up a press area inside a police cordon to facilitate coverage, reporters¡¦ movement will be restrained and Police may need to inspect their hand carry belongings, such as handbags or backpacks. If due to space constraints or overriding operational considerations that open coverage by all media representatives is not possible, pool coverage will be arranged.

     ¡§Police have taken the views of the media into full consideration when reviewing the press area policy. We believe that the arrangements balance the need for media reporting without affecting Police operation,¡¨ Mr Hung added.

     He reiterated that Police respect press freedom and the right of media reporting. The Force fully understands the importance of facilitating the work of the media and maintaining effective communication with the media.

     ¡§We thank the media for their cooperation and suggestion all along.  Working towards this positive direction, Police will continue to maintain a close partnership with the media on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, provide necessary assistance and maintain communication with them to strengthen co-operation,¡¨ he said.

Police Report No. 286
Issued by PPRB

Ends/Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Issued at HKT 21:41


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