The government has published the UK’s first national action plan to protect journalists from abuse and harassment

Today the UK government has published the first national action plan to protect journalists from abuse and harassment.

  • Plan sets out how journalists will be protected from threats of violence and intimidation
  • Includes new measures to research the problem and training for police forces and journalists
  • Broadcasters, publishers, social media companies, law enforcement, industry bodies, unions and the government all make pledges

It follows reports to the government from journalists who have suffered abuse and attacks while going about their work, including being punched, threatened with knives, forcibly detained and subjected to rape and death threats.

A survey of members of the National Union of Journalists in November also found more than half of respondents had experienced online abuse while nearly a quarter had been physically assaulted or attacked.

The plan will increase awareness of the safety challenges faced by journalists operating in the UK and introduce measures to tackle them in a joint effort by law enforcement, broadcasters, publishers, industry bodies, unions and the government.

Measures include new training for police officers as well as aspiring and existing journalists, and commitments from social media platforms and prosecution services to take tough action against abusers – including responding promptly to complaints of threats to journalists’ safety.

The plan has been endorsed by the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists. The Justice for Journalists Foundation Director Maria Ordzhonikidze is the observer in the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists.

It will be reviewed as necessary on an ongoing basis and supports the wider work the government is doing to uphold freedom of speech, in particular protecting journalistic content from censorship and takedown online. The Government is also publishing a broader update today on its ongoing work to tackle intimidation in public life.

Minister for Media and Data and Chair of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, John Whittingdale, said:

“We will not tolerate a world where journalists are silenced through fear or censorship and want the UK to set an international example for the respect, treatment and protection of those working in the field. This plan is the first step towards achieving those aims.”

The plan sets out a series of commitments from relevant organisations focused on protecting the safety of journalists based in the UK.

The plan can be read in full here. More information is available here.