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New rules for police and media
Home Secretary Theresa May said new guidance will bring a 'clearer' set of rules for meetings between the police and journalists
New guidelines that will bring "common sense" to relationships between the police and media have been drawn up, Theresa May has told the Leveson Inquiry.
The Home Secretary has received guidance from police chiefs that recommends officers should not accept gifts, gratuities or hospitality "except if it is of a trivial nature".
Mrs May said it was important officers did not put themselves in a position where "people could feel that they are being influenced by the receipt of such gifts".
Mrs May hoped new draft guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) would provide greater clarity and consistency about relationships between the press and police - and denied it would have a "chilling effect".
Previously forces drew up their own guidelines, with wide divisions in what was deemed acceptable. Acpo suggests allowing officers to receive only "light refreshments" during meetings with reporters, seemingly ruling out lavish lunches.
The guidelines call for "more robust decision-making" and recommend having a single force register of gifts and hospitality governed by the head of professional standards.
Lord Justice Leveson hoped tighter rules would not stop beat bobbies tipping off local reporters to community news stories, saying: "It is obviously important that, for example, neighbourhood police officers should be able to speak to local press about events in the neighbourhood - good news stories, concerns, seeking witnesses, all that sort of material - and it seems to me sensible that everything one can do to encourage that sort of contact is worthwhile."
The Home Secretary added: "The important thing is for officers to know where the line is drawn between who they are able to speak to and what they are able to say in those conversations."
Mrs May later set out her reasons for not ordering a fresh investigation when new phone hacking allegations surfaced in the New York Times in September 2010 - four months after she took office.
She told the inquiry: "It wasn't the role of the Home Secretary to decide whether information in a newspaper should be investigated. It is the role of the police officers to decide whether information that is printed is new evidence or hints at new evidence such that they feel it is necessary to investigate that."