Working with Vulnerable People


In this article

  1. Editorial Guidelines Issues
  2. Summary of Main Points

Last updated: October 2010

Editorial Guidelines Issues

This guidance note should be considered in conjunction with the following Editorial Guidelines:


Summary of Main Points


  • Contributors who are vulnerable may have particular needs according to their disability or condition at the time of filming. These require a carefully considered approach by production staff. It is important to take advice both from professionals with expertise in their condition and from those responsible for their care, if appropriate.
  • Vulnerable adults may not always be in a position to give informed consent. In such cases, in addition to the consent of the vulnerable person, someone over eighteen with primary responsibility for their care should normally give consent on their behalf, unless it is editorially justified to proceed without it.
  • When contributors are unable to give informed consent or their condition is unstable and subject to sudden deterioration, with the possibility that they may become incapable of giving informed consent, we have an ongoing duty, together with those responsible for their care, to consider the impact of broadcast on the individual.
  • We should normally establish with the medical professionals responsible for them, as well as those who look after them, whether vulnerable contributors are medically fit and psychologically robust enough to take part in filming.
  • Potential contributors may sometimes be psychologically assessed by an independent expert as part of the selection process, particularly in the context of constructed documentaries or programmes in which they will be filmed outside of their everyday environment or face challenges of a new kind.
  • We should pay particular attention to the expectations of privacy and have due regard for the dignity of vulnerable people before putting any sensitive facts about their condition or experience into the public domain.


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