DPP wants BBC or UTV to paint a rosy picture of police body

The Belfast District Policing Partnership (DPP) has agreed that the BBC or UTV should be asked to produce a “positive programme” on the body during 2005.
The move comes amid deepening concern within the DPP that widespread public confusion exists over its role and activities.
The DPP’s programme proposal was confirmed at a special meeting held on November 18, 2004, to discuss the organisation’s Operational Plan.
DPP members agreed that a senior DPP administrator would engage in discussions with public relations staff and the Policing Board before approaching the North’s two local broadcasters.
Since then a series of detailed discussions have been held with the Policing Board, against a background of dissatisfaction that it has failed to properly profile the role and activities of the council DPPs throughout the North.
“There is currently public confusion over the separate and distinct roles of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) and the District Policing Partnership,” state minutes from November’s special meeting of the Belfast DPP.
“The NIPB fails to promote sufficiently the independence of the DPPs. A high-profile media campaign is required to clarify the role of the DPPs and to reaffirm their ability to constructively influence on behalf of local people.
“However, it is acknowledged that great care would need to be taken in handling the media campaign to ensure that it effectively portrayed the messages the DPP wished to promote,” state the DPP minutes.
It is understood that approaches will be made by the DPP to both the BBC and UTV in the New Year. However, one insider did not hold out much hope for the success of the proposal.
The source said that “difficulties could arise” with the production of such a programme in the run-up to local government elections next May.
Reacting to the moves, a BBC spokesperson said yesterday that the broadcaster is “open to programme ideas from all sections of the community”.
“We have a rigorous commissioning process and selection of programmes is based on a wide range of factors,” said the spokesperson. “All BBC programmes are subject to our editorial guidelines of fairness, balance and independence.”
During the last decade both BBC and UTV have broadcast several fly-on-the-wall documentaries about aspects of policing in the North, produced with the permission of the RUC/PSNI.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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