Moat TV coverage 'cannot be right'
A chief constable has questioned the decision by broadcasters to beam live TV coverage of the last hours of gunman Raoul Moat, saying: "It cannot be right."
Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said the advent of rolling 24-hour news has had a "profound effect" on policing, with commanding officers often spending over half their time dealing with the media on high-profile cases.
He argued it "cannot be right" when an officer commanding an incident like the Moat stand-off had to consider how the police's actions may look as if they were a movie director. Writing on his blog on the force's website, he said such saturation coverage was "more of an issue" than the controversy focused on the Facebook tribute page to Moat.
Moat, 37, is thought to have shot himself following a six-hour stand-off in the Northumberland town of Rothbury in July.
Moat went on the run when he shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend Sam Stobbart in Birtley, Gateshead, after killing her new lover Chris Brown. The day after he blinded unarmed Pc David Rathband by shooting him in the face on the outskirts of Newcastle. He then declared war on police and went into hiding for a week before he was cornered at the River Coquet in Rothbury.
On the incident, Mr Fahy wrote: "The case involving Raoul Moat in Northumbria was the top news story for a number of days and the publicity then went on to Facebook.
"The advent of 24-hour news has had a profound effect on policing. Particular cases grab the public imagination and are then played out in the media in detail round the clock. In such a case well over 50% of the time of the officer commanding the incident will probably be spent handling the media.
"This includes monitoring and reacting to what the media are saying about the case and things like the statements being made by witnesses in front of the cameras. The murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Cambridgeshire was such a case."
He added: "The media have a legitimate interest in police operations. It cannot be right however that the last hours of a man's life are broadcast on live television with members of his family looking on.
"It cannot be right that an officer commanding such an incident has to consider how it might look on television as if he/she was a film director. I think this is more of an issue than the controversy about the Facebook page."