The Police and the Mass Media in Emergencies

(2011) 1 Human Rights Review 15-34

20 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 10 May 2018

See all articles by Clive Walker

Clive Walker

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS)

Date Written: April 13, 2018


This paper analyses police and mass media interrelation in situations of emergency. The research is primarily based upon a close examination of the extensive policy documentation which has emerged since the attacks of September 11, 2001 with special reference to the United Kingdom. Following a preliminary explanation of the context of ‘emergency’, a heuristic framework for understanding the interrelations is presented and is elaborated according to two axes. One common modes of relationship is managerial, whereby the police seek to negotiate media coverage. The other mode of relationship is coercive, whereby the police sometimes invoke formal legal powers to force the media to take or refrain from action. Of the two modes, the former tends to predominate. Of the two modes, the former tends to predominate, since the relationship between police and mass media is mutually supportive and is ongoing over time. Despite the possibilities of direct publication through such new media, the police have not yet supplanted independent media outlets, though the new facilities do allow them to offer a version of facts without media intercession. The ready facility to do so carries the dangers of accusations of news manipulation. Emergencies require the mobilisation of a 'neighbourhood response' as well as expert interventions. The police remain the lead operative agency in most forms of emergency. In consequence, it is inevitable that their contacts with the media will grow rather than diminish. The research produces an analysis which offers analytical and practical insights into police and media relations.

Keywords: mass media, police, emergencies, terrorism

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K33, K19, K30, K33, K42, N40

Suggested Citation

Walker, Clive, The Police and the Mass Media in Emergencies (April 13, 2018). (2011) 1 Human Rights Review 15-34, Available at SSRN:

Clive Walker (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom
44 (0) 113 3435022 (Phone)
44 (0) 113 3435056 (Fax)


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics