"Contacts with the police are amongst the most important we have, as reporters, and among the most difficult to cultivate and maintain," BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw told a College of Journalism lunchtime seminar on Wednesday 22 February.
"We've got to get this relationship between ourselves and the police right," he said. But, he added, it is not about "carousing" or "filling in forms".
Elizabeth Filkin told BBC journalists watching the seminar in Television Centre that there has been "a lack of transparency" and "inadequate control" which has led to "information being given out which should not have been given out" and "information which ought to have been given out not being given out".
She stressed the importance of more and better communication between the police and the media, and said the lack of transparency has led to "unequal access".
For her recent report, she spoke to 137 people in all, including many police officers and journalists, and had been told by many journalists of the unequal access given to some publications over others. She said there has been "quite a lot of improper disclosure for personal advantage".
Jeff Edwards, who has recently retired as chief crime correspondent for The Daily Mirror and is president of the Crime Reporters' Association, told journalists that in the course of a long career he has known well three police officers who have gone to prison for corruption. But, he said, 'I would be amazed if there have been many instances of reporters paying police officers. I would be amazed if that's going on."