Victims of Crime
There are a number of provisions in the Press Council’s Code of Practice that member publications must bear in mind when reporting on matters that may affect victims of crime.
They must strive for truth and accuracy so as to avoid the publication of an inaccurate, misleading or distorted report (Principle 1)
They must strive for fairness and honesty in procuring and publishing news and information, and should not engage in subterfuge or harassment, unless justified in the public interest (Principle 3)
They must show sympathy and discretion in seeking information at times of personal grief or shock, taking into account the feelings of grieving families (Principle 5.3)
They should not publish excessive detail about the means of suicide (Principle 5.4)
A victim of crime can suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves at the centre of intense media interest, often at times of great tragedy and distress. If this happens, they should bear the following in mind.
A victim of crime might consider asking a reliable friend or relative who is not as closely associated with the incident to deal with press enquiries on their behalf. This can help to prevent the added distress of victims dealing with the media at a time of great tragedy and upset.
The Office can give advice directly to a victim of crime and if the particular circumstances of a case merits it, the Office can contact editors to let them know, on a confidential basis, the wishes of a victim in relation to contact from the media. Such contact can also be used to facilitate appropriate and necessary coverage of particularly distressing events.
If a victim of crime does not want to speak to the media, they or their representative should make this clear to any journalist that approaches them, and ask them not to approach them again.
If a victim of crime is concerned about a story that is to be published, they can contact the Office for advice on how to handle the situation. The Office cannot prevent the publication of a story, but it can bring the concerns of those affected to the attention of the editor so as to ensure their position has been taken into consideration in the preparation of any story to be published.
If a victim of crime is concerned about a story that has already been published, they can make a formal complaint to the Office.