Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime, or lead to disorder, must not be included in our services. However, this is not intended to restrict the broadcasting of any content where a clear public interest can be demonstrated. Approval for the broadcast of such content must be obtained from Director Editorial Policy and Standards at the earliest opportunity. Such instances are likely to be rare.
In cases where potential law-breaking or civil disobedience form part of a current news story or public policy debate, editors must consider both their responsibility to reflect the debate or events fully and accurately and their duty not to broadcast material likely to encourage or incite crime. Context and explanation will be critical.
The mere recording and broadcasting of criminal activity will not normally amount to encouragement or incitement, unless it reveals imitable detail. However, we should take care that criminal acts are not glorified or glamorised.
Direct calls or provocation to audiences to commit criminal acts should be robustly challenged.
Illegal activities such as drug use or joy riding should not be portrayed as problem free or glamorous. It may be appropriate to reflect the negative consequences of such activities, over and above the fact they are illegal.
Witnessing and Depicting Illegal Activity
When investigating criminal activity we may, on rare occasions, want to record a specific crime. When that might raise questions about our relationship with the criminal or involves witnessing serious criminal activity, it must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor. Referral must also be made to Director Editorial Policy and Standards and Programme Legal Advice.
Approval to be present at or record serious illegal activity will be given only if it is clearly in the public interest. Even then we must avoid:
condoning, aiding or abetting criminal behaviour
encouraging or provoking behaviour which would not otherwise have occurred
directing the activity in any way.
Anyone admitting to or carrying out an illegal act could be prosecuted. Our research notes, diaries, emails and other paperwork as well as untransmitted rushes may be obtained by the police by court order. This material may also have to be disclosed as evidence to a court, tribunal or inquest. Care should be taken to ensure that the identities of any confidential sources are protected and do not appear in any notes that might become the subject of a court order.
We should not normally demonstrate or depict criminal techniques, such as how to hotwire a car, unless editorially justified. Even then it is important to avoid revealing detail that could enable the commission of illegal activity or the ways in which it can be made more effective.
There may be times when in the public interest we may be justified in recording the illegal harming of animals by third parties for the purpose of gathering evidence or to illustrate malpractice, cruel, anti-social or controversial behaviour. Any proposal to do so must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.
We should guard against criminal activity on our message boards and other interactive online spaces. We should be able to implement a swift and robust escalation strategy where appropriate. This may range from temporarily removing a contributor from a BBC space to putting it into 'read only ' mode. The individual who has editorial responsibility for the space should be consulted when, for example, there is an admission of an offence or it appears that illegal activity may be taking place or is being planned or organised.
Any incident of suspected "grooming" online must be referred promptly to the CBBC Interactive Executive Management Team (or, for Commercial Services, to the relevant editorial leader) who will be responsible for reporting it to the appropriate authorities.
We should consider the impact our reporting of crime may have on our audiences.
Our reporting of crime and anti-social behaviour aims to give audiences the facts in their context. It must not add to people's fears of becoming victims of crime if statistically they are very unlikely to be so.
When we interview those responsible for crime/anti-social behaviour or reconstruct/dramatise past events, it may cause distress to victims and/or their relatives. We should, as far as is reasonably practicable, make best endeavours to contact surviving victims, and/or the immediate relatives of the deceased and advise them of our plans. If it is necessary to use an intermediary, such as the police or social services, it is still our responsibility to check the victims and/or immediate relatives have been informed and have the necessary details to contact us.
Reporting the facts about criminals may include detailing their family circumstances, but we should avoid causing unwarranted distress to their family. Also we should not imply guilt by association without evidence.
When we report historic crime, consideration should be given to the possibility that some of those involved - offenders, suspects, witnesses, relatives or victims - may have changed their names or addresses in order to re-establish their lives. Should that be the case, the extent to which we identify them or their new whereabouts should be given particularly careful thought.
The use of archive material relating to crimes and to victims of crime requires careful editorial judgements.
News programmes may report crime reconstructions staged by the police to gather evidence. They should not normally commission crime reconstructions except for use at the conclusion of a trial. Revisiting the scene of a crime and/or interviewing a victim or witness do not in themselves constitute a reconstruction.
Factual programmes should restrict the use of reconstructions to the conveying of factual information. They should not be used simply to attract or entertain audiences.