| DIALOGUE WITH THE COMMUNITY
Although the PCC is based in London, its remit covers the whole of the UK. In order to hear the views of people living in all parts of the country, we regularly hold regional public meetings so that people can learn about what we do first-hand. The idea is that any specific concerns about the press can be raised in an open forum; while suggestions for how we might improve our service are always welcome. (In one case, a suggestion by an audience member at one of these meetings directly led to a later amendment to the Code of Practice).
The PCC is particularly proactive in its work with vulnerable groups, and we have worked hard to build up relationships with organisations likely to be representing people at times when press attention may be difficult. We regularly speak to Coroners, police Family Liaison Officers, and support organisations to explain the relevance of Clause 5 (intrusion into grief or shock) to families who have recently been bereaved, for example; and to explain the provisions of the Code which would protect them from media harassment. We know that it can be distressing for those suffering the loss of a loved one to deal with media attention, so this work helps to inform people at as early a stage as possible about their rights, and to understand how the PCC can assist if it becomes necessary.
Other professional groups will also have an interest in particular sections of the Code. Over the years, we have worked to develop contacts with those working in healthcare for example – both in terms of general healthcare provision at hospitals and Strategic Health Authorities, as well as those specialising in mental heath and HIV/AIDS who may have more specific concerns about press reporting. The PCC maintains a close working relationship with the Samaritans following the amendment to clause 5 of the Code in 2006, and is continually scrutinising patterns in its complaints to identify particular groups who might benefit from advice about their rights under the Code of Practice.
In addition to this proactive work, the PCC maintains ongoing communication with a number of public bodies to ensure that information is always available to those who need it. Libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux, and court witness services are all kept up-to-date on our work, and we also exhibit at related conferences. We also make sure that external websites such as DirectGov, Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s Advice Guide and Consumer Direct are up-to-date with our contact details so that enquiries can be routed through to us as appropriate. If you work for an organisation which you think would benefit from some information from the PCC, please contact us.
This website – which is updated daily with news - is a key way for us to communicate our work. To receive news and information about forthcoming events, please consider adding your name to our mailing list.
The PCC have produced an A4 poster which is designed to publicise how it can help members of the public, to deal with complaints under the Code of Practice we enforce. This can be displayed in offices, libraries, community centres etc. To download the poster click here or contact Tonia Milton to request a hard copy.
For more information about any of this work, please contact Tonia Milton.