Hertfordshire police this week promised to launch an inquiry after journalists were arrested while covering climate protests in England.
On Tuesday, LBC’s Charlotte Lynch became the latest reporter to be arrested by Hertfordshire constabulary while covering Just Stop Oil’s protests on the M25.
Talking on LBC, Lynch said she was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance despite being a distance from the protesters and showing officers a valid press ID.
Hertfordshire Police released a statement saying: “Our officers have been instructed to act as quickly as they can, using their professional judgment, to clear any possible protesters in order to get roads up and running and to prevent anyone from coming to harm.
“However, Chief Constable Charlie Hall recognises the concerns over the recent arrests of journalists who arrived at these locations and have been present with the protestors at the scenes. Additional measures are now in place to ensure that legitimate media are able to do their job.
“In addition, Mr Hall is today requesting an independent force to examine our approach to these arrests and to identify any learning we should take in managing these challenging situations.”
The arrests have sparked an outcry, with Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), telling The Guardian: “This is the second incident in as many days where the police have threatened press freedom and disregarded the right of journalists to cover protests,”
“No reporter should fear being placed in a cell for doing their job, and it’s time the police take immediate action to ensure this is prevented in future. We’ve raised this directly with the national police chiefs, council and the police forces involved.”
Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, added her voice to the chorus of concern, telling LBC: “Journalists shouldn’t get arrested for doing their job. We are defenders of free speech.”
Lynch’s arrest is believed to be the eighth of a journalist covering actions by Just Stop Oil.