A report has warned London's Metropolitan Police that relationships with the media must appear not to be "partial or selective".
The report by Dame Elizabeth Filkin, who was chosen to lead an inquiry to advise on cleaning up the relationship between the police service and the media, was published on January 4.
“I found there were a range of problems in the relationship between the MPS and the media and much needs to be done to make the necessary improvements," she said in a Metropolitan Police press release. "I am delighted to hear that the MPS is signed up to them.”
She said it is important that the police are as open and transparent as possible, and that sometimes the service has "not been open enough in providing the right information to the public.”
She recommended that there be more open and recorded contact with media.
"It is felt both internally and externally that the MPS has not given equal access to all parts of the media for a number of years and that certain special relationships have developed selectively," she stated in the report.
She said the MPS has relied too much on print news media at the expense of other means of communication, that the senior team has given mixed messages to staff about the standards expected of them, that staff do not always understand what is appropriate, and that a strategy to prevent the leaking of information is needed.
" Alcohol is a risk," she stated. "Police could ban alcohol in media dealings as some journalists do not practise abstinence. Discipline and common sense are a better approach."
Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said that the press and the public are needed to help prevent and detect crime.
"But there should be no more secret conversations, there should be no more improper contact - that which is of selfish not public interest," the Metropolitan Police press release quoted him as saying. "Meetings will no longer be enhanced by hospitality and alcohol."
Filkin met with 137 people to collect evidence for the report, including police,journalists, newspaper editors, people in business and politicians.
The BBC reported that she has been a community worker, academic, Chief Executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and "was Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, where she challenged vested interests at Westminster until being "hounded out" by MPs in 2002."