The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • MR PETER JAMES VAUGHAN (sworn). MRS CATHERINE ANN LLEWELLYN (sworn).

  • Mr Vaughan first of all, please give your full name.

  • Peter James Vaughan.

  • You've provided a witness statement dated 19 January of this year?

  • The version I have isn't signed but do you confirm that the contents of that statement are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • That is your evidence to the Inquiry?

  • You are Chief Constable of South Wales Police?

  • You were appointed in January 2010 from the position of Deputy Chief Constable?

  • You joined the South Wales Police in 1984 and you served in every rank save for a spell of Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police between 2003 and 2007?

  • Assistant Chief Constable.

  • You slightly promoted Mr Vaughan.

  • I did. I missed out that important word, I apologise. Please give us first of all an idea of the size of South Wales Police and the geographical area that it covers.

  • It's a small geographical area, 10 per cent of the geography of Wales, but we squeeze in there 42 per cent of the population. So there's about 1.3 million people living within the force area. We cover the city centre of Cardiff and the outskirts of Cardiff, the city of Swansea, the valley communities to the north of that as well and the Vale of Glamorgan. There are seven unitary authority areas that we police from four basic commanding bases.

  • Thank you. Mrs Llewellyn now, please give your full name.

  • You've provided a witness statement dated 12 March 2012?

  • Again the version I have isn't signed but do you confirm the contents of that witness statement are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • And that is your evidence to the Inquiry?

  • You are the temporary assistant director of corporate communications?

  • You've held that position since November 2011?

  • But you joined the South Wales Police as a press officer in 1998?

  • You've been promoted several times and you became deputy head of corporate communications in September 2011 and that remains your substantive role?

  • You're a member of the Association of Police Communicators and you sit on the ACPO communications advisory group, both in England and Wales; is that right?

  • How many staff are in your department?

  • And your department includes, as I understand, there's the main press office and five regional press offices based in the basic command unit?

  • Yes, in four areas of the force.

  • Could I just understand, I'm sure it's my fault, you say that you were the deputy head of corporate communications and now you're the temporary assistant director. Now, in police ranks, which is all I've been focusing on recently, assistants are one rank below deputy, but do I gather that must be the wrong way round here?

  • It would be equivalent to a departmental head or divisional commander, sir.

  • Yes. You're presently occupying a higher role than your substantive role?

  • All right. The use of the words assistant and deputy rather threw me. Thank you.

  • Mrs Llewellyn, could you give us an indication of the sort of coverage or the sort of work that your department does and how it's structured?

  • Yes, the department is split up into variation functions. Media handling obviously is one area that we deal with. In addition, we have an internal communications department, and a marketing department which deals with large campaigns such as drink drive campaigns, et cetera. We also have people who look at online communications, so that's Twitter, Facebook and our website, for example.

  • Do you provide an out-of-hours service for the police?

  • We do, we provide a 24-hour service in terms of advice and guidance for police officers when they need it or to deal with any major incidents which might occur outside of working hours.

  • And as we heard from Mr Gordon yesterday, the press department doesn't work at the weekend?

  • But there's the line that these officers can call?

  • Yes, there's an on-call press officer available over the weekend.

  • Do you know what proportion of the staff in your department have a background in the media?

  • Three members of staff have previously worked for the media. The others come from a range of backgrounds including public relations agencies or people who have come to us straight from university and worked their way up through the department.

  • You describe at paragraph 11 of your witness statement, our page 13867, how the press office will give out some information at its own discretion; is that right?

  • And equally decline to release information at its own discretion. What sort of information would that be?

  • That might be the name of a deceased, for example, where we know the next of kin hasn't been informed, so we may inform the journalist that we're not in a position to release that information at this time, rather than allow the journalist to go directly through to a police officer dealing with the incident to ask for that information.

  • So there are judgments that your team make without contacting a police officer first?

  • You say:

    "Where requests for information are received in relation to major crime or more serious incidents, the press officers act as a bridge between the force and journalists."

    Please explain what you mean by "a bridge".

  • What I mean by that is the press officers may provide advice and guidance to an SIO, for example, in relation to what information should or should not be released to the media, and that may be in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, or to protect a victim or their family, for example.

  • When you say SIO, you mean senior investigating officer?

  • Sorry, yes, senior investigating officer.

  • As a bridge, are you facilitating communication between the member of the media and the officer as well?

  • Yes. What we would endeavour to do in that situation where a senior investigating officer would be very busy dealing with the case in hand, we would try to facilitate the media on his behalf in order to take away that demand from his schedule.

  • So you can operate as an intermediary?

  • Moving to the nature of the relationship between South Wales Police and the media, Mr Vaughan, you state that the force's position is and always has been one of openness and transparency?

  • That's correct, yes.

  • At paragraph 98 of your statement, you highlight that you currently have no significant concerns in relation to current relations with the media. Indeed, you wish to draw the Inquiry's attention to the generally positive relationship that South Wales Police enjoys with the local media?

  • On the topic of your contact with the media, paragraph 8, you cover a particularly negative experience where you were misquoted in the Jane's Police Review publication. Would you like to set out what happened?

  • Yes. It was I took over as Chief Constable of South Wales Police on 1 January 2010 and on 4 January I was interviewed by Jane's Police Review, an in-house magazine. At the end of the interview I was asked if anything had changed since taking over as the Chief Constable. I said it hadn't. I was pushed on the matter, and they said surely something has changed. I mentioned that there's a Tesco store opposite our headquarters where I go shopping and it took me a little bit longer because people wanted to speak to me to congratulate me. That was completely misinterpreted and in the press appeared an article about an individual, a chief constable who wouldn't go shopping because he was too frightened to go through the aisles because of security reasons, he couldn't go shopping.

    That was quickly taken up by most of the national papers, indeed international newspapers, and covered on the media and all over the Internet, and it was manifestly untrue. It was a situation when I'm trying to set the tone and the tenure of my organisation, and I'm a firm believer that you have to live and breathe the standards that you expect others to follow, and I was reading about an individual whose standards I didn't quite like.

    I needed to do something about it and I had the full support of the Police Authority in following the defamation route. We had recorded the conversation, myself and there were three other people in the interview. It was a telephone conversation. We were able to go back through the notes. It took some time, though, to get the Police Review to actually agree that I didn't say what they were purporting I had said.

    The pleasing thing for me was members of my own staff and people that knew me wrote into the various newspapers to say that they'd completely misrepresented Peter Vaughan and Peter Vaughan's character. Once the Police Review had conceded that they had printed an inaccuracy, apologised and made a donation to charity, we then worked our way through the other newspapers and the Internet information that was out on the web.

  • You now speak quite positively about your relations with the media?

  • Before you go on, let me focus on that. Has that all been dealt with?

  • Because one of the aspects of the evidence that I heard before Christmas -- it seems a very long time ago -- was that once these stories enter the public domain, they are very, very difficult wholly to eradicate, which is one of the criticisms that a number of people advanced. I just wonder whether you found that so, or whether all reference to that has now gone, unless and until somebody recalls what you've said today.

  • Most of the references have gone. It's very difficult to control much of the Internet, the articles that are on the Internet that are not provided by the main media outlets. Once we proved that the quote was a spurious quote, the newspapers were quite keen to take the information -- to apologise and also take the information off the Internet, so if you search, there will be articles on there. It's very difficult to take them off. I suppose I'm a public figure, I have to live with that.

    The bit that I was concerned about was here I am starting out a journey as a chief constable and here's a legend being created about me that is wholly inaccurate and I had to do something about it.

  • You don't have to persuade me of that, Mr Vaughan, at all. It's whether the lines open to you were sufficient and appropriate --

  • They were, sir, yes.

  • -- or whether more could have been done. That covers a different part of my Inquiry rather than the one you're here to talk about, but you'll not, I hope, be surprised that I want to get your views on that as well.

  • The lines were effective, sir.

  • You do now speak positively about your relations with the media. How were you able to rebuild that relationship?

  • There's a danger, isn't there, that you retrench and that you -- we'd been -- Tim Goodwin from the Daily Mail mentioned in 2009 perhaps a cooling off between South Wales Police and the media, and what had happened in 2008, 2009, there were a series of suicides in the Bridgend area, and I think the local community, local politicians, the local authority, ourselves, were quite critical of the way that the community and the families of the bereaved were treated by certain sections of the media. But that culminated in the Press Complaints Commission coming down, the chair coming down to Bridgend and holding an event where members of the deceased individuals' families were able to speak about their experiences.

    Necessarily for us, I think we probably recalibrated the way we dealt with the press and we were a little bit dubious about some of the motivations, not the local press, because I think we've had a good relationship with them. It's professional, it's appropriate, but it does cause you to think about what you say to individuals.

    I then had that experience with the Police Review and all the other media articles, and you quickly form the opinion I can't go on not providing press comments. They're an important part of the community that I serve and they're an important means of holding me to account, and also for me to provide the community with information that I want to get out there. So I needed to do something to try and develop and build up those relationships that quite frankly could have completely disappeared at that time.

  • So they had deteriorated in 2009?

  • I would say we were -- there was a degree of scepticism and we were suspicious of the motivations of the press, where perhaps we hadn't been in the past.

  • Does that explain the sea change that Ms Alford describes, the crime correspondent for the South Wales Echo?

  • I don't know whether I'd call it a sea change, probably from her perspective it was, but yes, we were more guarded in what we were saying at that time.

  • Mrs Llewellyn is nodding as well. You would agree that that --

  • But there came the point, once you had taken office as Chief Constable, that you thought "I need to do something about this", you were saying?

  • Yes, absolutely, and an opportunity was presented fairly early on that the events with the Police Review were ongoing through January, and I had an invite from Media Wales to join them in a hospitality box in a rugby match, and that presented me with an opportunity and a dilemma. I don't regularly engage in any sort of hospitality, but I felt with that particular occasion there was an opportunity for them to see Peter Vaughan outside the work environment, Peter Vaughan without the safety net of someone recording everything that was said around him in a social setting.

    Long discussions with colleagues, chief officer colleagues about the appropriateness of going to that event, and I think the context of accepting that was very important, about trying to develop a relationship, trying to recreate a brand, if that's the right word, of myself, trying to be myself and show them that I wasn't the individual that was being portrayed.

    Carefully looked at the guest list of that event and there was a Welsh government minister going to the same place, as well as another key individual from Welsh society, so it was deemed as an opportunity to go along to meet people in a social surrounding that wasn't necessarily a formal office environment, and to step on them, to develop some sort of relationship rather than retrench and dig myself in.

  • You had the option of inviting members of the media, editors to your office for a round-table discussion?

  • But you decided to take the opportunity to go to the rugby game. Do you feel that was a good decision?

  • I think -- yes, you've got to consider the context, and the context at that time it felt right at that moment. There was -- the invite landed before we'd even given consideration to get together with the editors and there was an opportunity -- I think something like three or four weeks from the inaccuracy being reported by the Police Review and this particular event, so it just presented itself as an opportunity then to start to put the record straight.

  • Was it successful?

  • Yes, it was.

    Certainly I would not put myself in a position where I would be beholden to anyone or compromise myself, and you've heard from the Western Mail and Echo yesterday that there's a healthy professional relationship there. Very often the headlines -- I wouldn't write them myself. Many of them are accurate. They openly are honest, and it hasn't damaged our relationship, it hasn't affected the relationship in that they're frightened to write what they want to or I try and suppress them. So yes, it opened up a line of communication that was vital for us.

  • Have you accepted similar hospitality since?

  • There's one with the BBC, but apart from that, no. And in fact if you look in the hospitality register, there was a similar invite this year from Media Wales to attend the same event and I rejected that because I felt that I'd achieved what I wanted to achieve.

  • So the line probably can be drawn in this way: there was a very good police-related reason --

  • -- for you taking part last time.

  • This time it would only be social and there's no police-related reason, therefore that's how you can define the line. Would that be fair summary?

  • Because your general contact with the media, you describe in your witness statement, comprises interviews on policy matters, comments in response to incidents, briefings to editors?

  • You don't dine socially with editors and journalists?

  • We heard about the average spend for a South Wales Echo journalist on their expenses yesterday, but do I take it then that you're not invited to lunches and dinners?

  • No. The meetings tend to be -- I've been to Media Wales' offices once, they've come to my office in headquarters and I think on both occasions we were afforded a cup of tea, a cup of coffee and some biscuits.

  • The meeting with Media Wales that Mr Gordon mentioned yesterday was at 2.30 pm, so it was deliberately after lunch?

  • And the conversation was, would you agree, discussing government cuts, forthcoming corruption trial, matters of that nature?

  • Do you consider that the low level of hospitality or even negligible, if it's generally confined to refreshments, do you consider that's a cultural thing within South Wales Police?

  • I've had the privilege of working in Wiltshire Police as well and it was the same there. I think the important thing is again it's the context, it's about what you're trying to achieve, and I've said it earlier that the media are a very important part of the business that I am in, not only in helping to trace witnesses and suspects, but also providing public information. I think it's entirely appropriate that you can do that in the way that we do this in South Wales Police and other parts in the country.

  • Would you be concerned if the culture changed and there were more dinners or if you were invited to restaurants in the evening or you heard that other senior officers were being invited and accepting invitations to have drinks, to meet up after work?

  • I would be, yes. It would -- obviously the context is very important and the proportionality of what you're trying to achieve, and I can see the rare occasion it may be necessary to do that, but not on a regular basis.

  • During your years serving with the South Wales Police, have you become aware of any individual senior officers accepting what might be termed excessive hospitality?

  • Or developing what might be perceived as an overly close relationship with members of the press?

  • Mrs Llewellyn, are you aware of any inappropriate relationships forming between any police officer or member of police staff and the media?

  • Because you've been in the press department since 1998.

  • For completeness, you've never been offered any hospitality from the media, I understand?

  • I've never been offered hospitality by the media.

  • Indeed, you've never met a member of the media off official premises?

  • Whether that's police premises or offices of the media?

  • In terms of the provision of hospitality, you've provided only tea or coffee?

  • Whilst dealing with the relationships with the local press, you may be aware of comments that were made by Mr Gordon yesterday and in the statement of Abigail Alford, one of the complaints was that information from the press department can be slow.

  • The evidence was, in Ms Alford's statement, that you tend to be willing to release information when it suits your agenda, but can be terribly slow at releasing information or even confirming information when incidents are ongoing. Do you think that's a fair criticism?

  • I don't think that's a fair criticism. I disagree entirely with that assumption.

  • Do you want to elaborate on why you disagree?

  • We have a duty to check that information is accurate, and also to protect victims and victims' families and the dissemination of that information, so it may be that that would slow things down in terms of how quickly the media expect us to give information to them. But we always have to balance the two. We never withhold information from the media if they come through to ask us for something, it may be that the speed in which they would like to get it doesn't always meet with the speed in which we can get it to them, but there are sound operational reasons for that.

  • Do you mind if I come in there? It's just this issue on our agenda, and very often it's not our agenda, it's the agenda of the people that we're representing, the victims, the witnesses of the crime that we're dealing with, and very often, if we're perceived as slow, it's because we're looking after the best interests of those individuals.

  • Yes. Mr Gordon also said in his statement that he would prefer it if his reporters were able to gain better access to officers directly to ensure that information can be checked quickly. In your experience, is access provided to officers when it's requested?

  • Yes. We'll always endeavour to put a journalist in touch with an officer, if they specifically ask to speak to them, and also we don't prevent officers speaking to the media or indeed journalists approaching officers directly.

  • Ms Alford also said that to her it can seem that the press office acts as a barrier, that she feels that messages don't always get passed on and that there isn't concern for her deadlines. Is there anything you want to add to what you've said before about that criticism?

  • I would say quite the reverse, that often in practice what the press office does is to enhance the flow of information. Often journalists will be trying to deal with very busy police officers, and a press officer intervening may actually speed up the information.

  • The other complaint was the lack of staffing of the press office at the weekend. Mr Gordon said yesterday that duty inspectors aren't always helpful. He said that they can say that nothing's happening when one or two days later the press office say in fact something was happening. Would either of you like to give your reaction to that?

  • Perhaps I'll answer that one. It was addressed to myself and the deputy when we met Media Wales about the difficulties they were experiencing out of hours on the weekend, and we went back and checked that was the case, reaffirmed my position that we need to be open and transparent with the media, but the situation that was played back to us was that the journalists would ring up and ask, "Is anything happening?" The control room inspector's response was, "No." I think it's on the basis of their tolerance and understanding of what's going on at that time. We're a fairly busy force and probably at that time we were dealing with one incident every minute of every day, and for the controlling inspector who during those hours would be one of the most senior individuals on duty to trawl through a series of incidents to find something of interest to the journalists wasn't a productive use of our time.

    We've also looked at the staffing levels within Cath's department and we're going through huge changes at the moment with the comprehensive spending review. We will lose £45 million out of our budget and in the last 18 months I've lost 420 posts from my establishment of just under 5,300. So every establishment consideration is an important one, and perhaps where we would have liked to put individuals into these sorts of areas to help, now it's no longer an option for us.

  • Mrs Llewellyn, I'd like to explore with you how information that might be damaging to the reputation of the force is dealt with. Your evidence at paragraph 32, which is our page 13873, is that:

    "Press officers are aware of their responsibility to be open, honest and transparent, and will always try to give as much information as they can. They will never withhold information because it is perceived to be negative or unpalatable."

    How do you ensure that that happens in practice?

  • I think what I'm trying to say in my evidence at paragraph 32 is that if a journalist contacts us with a specific request or a specific question around an incident, we would always provide an answer to that individual in terms of what they're asking. It's a very rare occurrence for us to say, "No comment", or, "We do not wish to discuss this at this stage". If we do, there's usually very sound reasons for that. For example, an IPCC -- sorry, I'm using acronyms again -- an IPCC investigation that may be ongoing or other investigations of that nature that would prevent us from commenting and they would be the only occasions where we would not provide a comment to a journalist around a specific incident.

  • We could illustrate this by asking a general question, and if you don't want to be specific, I understand. But South Wales Police have recently had a very, very difficult investigation.

  • Which has had a rather difficult, if not -- well, difficult outcome. I'm not expressing a value judgment about it one way or the other.

  • In which a very large part of the press would have been extremely interested. Did you have to put in different plans to deal with that or did you have to develop a strategy which was different to the strategy that you would normally adopt with the press?

  • I think with that one, sir, where we are with that at the moment is we have to wait for the outcome of the IPCC investigation, the CPS/HMI investigation and an independent investigation being carried out by Devon and Cornwall. Whereas I would love to be in the position to --

  • No, I'm not asking you to discuss that which is still ongoing. I'm spending a great deal of time trying to not prejudice any sort of investigation. But as the trial built up and as the investigation was manifesting itself, did you have to have a separate strategy or did that just slip into the normal strategy you adopt and have adopted for the normal type of crime?

  • No, that had a separate strategy for the way that we briefed individuals as the case progressed.

  • It's quite difficult to say whether it's worked, but did you find that was positively received or have there been lessons to learn? What I'm really asking is whether there's anything from that experience that might help me. If not, then not.

  • Turning to force policies, the force has a policy on gifts, hospitality and media contact. The media contact aspect of that policy was introduced at the beginning of 2011; is that right?

  • Page 160 of your policy, our page 00294, media contact:

    "A successful working relationship between the police and the media is vital but it must remain transparent and professional. With this in mind, ACPO officers and senior police staff should be accompanied to interviews by a member of the media department. All meetings and interviews must be recorded with the media register held by the DCC."

    And that's the deputy chief constable?

  • Can you help with the thinking behind why this applies to ACPO officers, which is, as I understand, assistant chief constable and above, as opposed to all officers?

  • I think certainly in terms of the interviews that we tend to conduct tend to be ones on policy, on serious incidents, major incidents. There's something around recording what we say and making sure that we're consistent. There's also something in there about making sure that we're not misquoted and to have the opportunity to try and correct things that are written about the force or about us. It's something it's good practice that we've developed, it doesn't just apply to ACPO officers. I think as a rule of thumb it would happen to senior investigating officers, anyone with a press officer with them, that press officer would be making a shorthand note of that interview.

  • That's a matter of police practice rather than codified in policy?

  • What about more junior officers? Are there any formal requirements at all for them when they meet members of the press?

  • If they did have any hospitality, and I think the instances of that are pretty rare, we expect them to keep some sort of pocket notebook entry or our force commander control system we'd expect an entry in there. In the same way that if they had an interaction with another member of the public, the victim of crime, they would record that, so we would expect some sort of time, date, place, who the person was and it's generally good practice to put a bit of a theme around what was discussed.

  • Is this something that occurs or just something that you would like to occur?

  • Page 162, our page 00296, sets out the hospitality policy:

    "Hospitality is widely defined and includes offers of a working lunch, complimentary tickets to functions, sporting and entertainment events. Where an invitation is received to attend a sporting, community or social function it should only be accepted where the event is one at which the force should be represented. Where an invitation involves a level of hospitality outside the criteria of this policy, before it may be accepted authority must be obtained from the DCC.

    "The offer of hospitality of any kind must be treated with the utmost caution, as acceptance may make it difficult to avoid the perception of some obligation to the party offering it and may be interpreted as having affected the staff member's impartiality. A clear distinction should be drawn between public sector invitations and private sector invitations, even where business interests may be gained. All such offers of hospitality must be recorded in the divisional gifts and hospitality."

    That's a paragraph that's been in place for a number of years?

  • Is there any more guidance to officers as to what they can accept and what they can't, beyond that quite general statement?

  • No, and I think that's something that's come out of the HMIC's recent review and the Filkin review, in fact, that we've looked at our policies, we've looked at our procedures, and you'll see that many of them were amended in June last year to coincide with some of the findings that were coming out from those enquiries.

    Policies and procedures are regularly reviewed, regularly updated. We know that they can be better. We're glad to be part of this process to help influence and shape that, but also we'll be keeping a keen eye on what will come out of this in terms of advice and guidance.

    In my view, the more straightforward a policy is, the easier it is for someone to comply with it. There's a straight line of sight from what you're trying to achieve and what you actually end up doing.

  • Yes. Taking matters slightly out of turn and jumping back to the media contact paragraph, Mrs Llewellyn, could you help with the thinking behind this requirement to record contact? Is part of the thinking that it would encourage senior officers and senior staff members to be more careful about what they say to the media because they know that what they're saying is being recorded?

  • Not at all. It's simply a mechanism by which we can go back over what has been said, if there was to be any issue, as there was with Police Review, for example, after the fact.

  • Mr Vaughan, you have practical experience of this particular provision. Does it have a psychological effect on you, knowing when you're speaking to a member of the press, an editor, that what you're saying will be taken down and kept?

  • Yes, it did. I think the Police Service works in risk and harm, and the threat that we deal with it, and I think something that recognises the risks of the conversation and it very often will determine how exact you need to be with your recording of the information there. So if it was an innocuous conversation on a non-issue, you may not or I would not put down a verbatim record of what was said. If it was something that affected policy or the outcome of an investigation at a future point in time, I'd want to be absolutely clear about what it is that I was saying to the media.

  • I understand there's a difference for you in that you're speaking about policy matters and possibly matters with wider ramifications than a more junior officer might speak about, but one of the concerns that's been expressed by members of the press in this Inquiry about any requirement on police officers to make records of contact is that they might be deterred from doing so because either it's another burden in the working day or simply that the requirement to make a record suggests that there's something inherently wrong with that contact. Would you agree with any of those concerns?

  • No, no, I wouldn't. We're in the business of recording contact, recording evidence, and it would be quite usual for my staff, like myself and like my officers and staff to record conversations, events, things they went to. So I don't see it as overly onerous.

    If you again go back to this issue of if risk is the right word, I'm not sure, but the -- you'd want to record stuff that is going to be relevant in the future. You necessarily wouldn't for other conversations. If it's around information about an open day at a police station, you wouldn't necessarily want to record the fact that you've had that conversation with a journalist, other than the fact that you met them and the time and the theme of the conversation.

  • And your evidence earlier was that you believe that officers already are in the habit of recording contact with members of the press?

  • Certainly within South Wales Police.

  • The media policy, which we can find at 00139, or page 5 of 471 on the internal numbering.

  • Sorry, could you give me the number again?

  • It was page 5 of 471 on the internal numbering, if that's easier to use.

  • The second paragraph:

    "Any police officer or member of police staff may speak to the media provided they are the most appropriate person to speak about the issue in question. If in doubt please refer to your line manager or if appropriate direct the enquiry to the press office ... or out of hours the Force Incident Manager ..."

    Mr Vaughan, you state at paragraph 44 of your statement -- you may not need to go to that paragraph -- that:

    "... all staff must consult their line manager prior to liaising with the media."

    Sorry, do feel free if -- paragraph 44. I can give the page reference. That's 00619.

    "In practice within South Wales Police, all staff must consult with their line manager prior to liaising with the media."

    I wanted to explore the practicality of that. Is that something that always happens? One can imagine a police officer involved in an incident, perhaps standing on a police cordon or approached outside court. Would the officer stop in their tracks and contact their line manager before continuing the conversation?

  • I don't know. I think in an ideal world that would be the best way to do it, but probably the reality of this is that supervisors are very easily contactable through the airwave radio system. It would be a case of pressing the relevant button and speaking to the supervisor and clearing it with them. I would not want to stand in the way of conversation any of my officers would have with the press and probably the more important line from the policy for me is it's the most relevant person to speak to the individual.

  • Yes, it's not about the rank, it's who can give the information most accurately?

  • Not about the rank -- absolutely.

  • You also provide to officers A to Z guidelines, which it might be fair to describe them as a quick reference guide. Would you agree, Mrs Llewellyn?

  • Page 00146. This is a part of the contents page where an officer can look down at a number of topics related to contact with the media. There's one example that I wanted to highlight and that's on internal numbering 22, page 00156. That's "Court cases -- comment":

    "When a case has been concluded in court, the media are often anxious to get a 'police line' to add to their stories, and will approach either the force press office or the officer who dealt with the case, for a comment.

    "It is force policy not to comment after court cases, although in exceptional circumstances (eg if a case has caused great public concern) a comment may be considered in consultation with the senior officer in the case and the Press Office."

    First of all, why is it force policy not to comment generally after court cases?

  • I think the position the force has adopted is that it isn't desirable for us to either agree or disagree with a sentence that has been passed down by court, and that that is usually what the media are looking for us to comment on in those cases.

  • It's rather more nuanced than that as well, isn't it? Not only is it not appropriate, but also there's not always clarity about the basis upon which the judge passes sentence. There have been more than a few occasions in which police officers have commented based upon the allegation, for example, of wounding with intent, whereas in fact the offender has been convicted of unlawful wounding, the lesser offence, and therefore a sentence which would have been manifestly inadequate for section 18 is perfectly appropriate for section 20, yet the whole thing gets garbled and the adverse report in the press reflects ill actually upon everybody.

  • On the next page, page 23 or 00157, you set out guidance to a police officer which applies to those circumstances where he or she decides to give a comment to the media. One view that's been expressed during this Inquiry is that police should be spending or putting greater emphasis on telling police officers what they can say rather than always telling them what they can't say. Here you set out at the top:

    "A statement is the opportunity to: offer condolences to the victim's family, hope that the sentence gives them closure, thank the local community/witnesses for their support/coming forward with information, reassure the community."

    So you set out clearly what an officer can talk about. You follow that with a paragraph on matters that aren't appropriate to comment on. You then give an example, a paragraph of what an officer might say actually in context, so there's an example there. Are there any other examples that you can think of where -- or is that something that you agree should be carried forward, that there should be more guidance of that sort, so that the officer knows what he or she can say rather than only what they can't?

  • Yes, I think it's very helpful for officers to have that kind of information to hand and if you look through the A to Z guidelines, it's littered with examples, and the overall tone is, you know, no comment, as I said earlier, or not wishing to discuss an issue isn't a position that we generally take as a force. I think throughout the guidelines there's an encouragement there for officers to speak, but obviously within guidelines and when it's appropriate.

  • Sir, I'm about to move on to a different topic. Would now be a convenient moment or shall I continue?

  • As I understand it, we're not going to take the whole of the afternoon, so we'll give the shorthand writer a break now. Thank you.

  • (A short break)

  • The next topic I wanted to deal with was the social media and its impact on your role, Mrs Llewellyn. What has been the impact in your office of the increased importance of social media?

  • I think there's been a recognition of the public appetite to communicate with us directly in this way and that's something that we are looking at resourcing. For example, we are still very much in the early stages of looking at that, but we do recognise it will have a significant impact in the months and years to come.

  • From a different perspective, has it placed greater pressure on your office in that members of the press might be seeking increasingly urgent responses to queries because they're competing with this almost instantaneous medium?

  • In some ways, yes. In other ways obviously the press are monitoring our social media sites and so sometimes pick up the information from us in that way also.

  • You provide guidance to police officers on their use of social networks, which includes prohibition on divulging any information that may compromise police operations or information explained through police work, so you have your eye on potential misuse of social networks or inadvertent misuse, inadvertent disclosure of leaks.

  • Yes, or leaks in a misguided manner, for example.

  • Are you encouraging your neighbourhood police officers to tweet to their communities or --

  • Yes, we are, sir, in a limited extent. We have one Twitter account for each of our basic command units, but we tend to -- we have what we call ourbobby.com which is a website that each of the policing wards, policing areas, electoral wards have their own information on the crime patterns and everything else that's going on. We want to make sure that we do this properly, that we don't expose our staff to unnecessary risks, and our experience with things like entries on Facebook and other social networking sites is sometimes people trip up, so we want to make sure that they know what the rules of engagement are from our perspective before we allow them to use it.

  • Is there an ACPO line on any of this, or are you trailblazing the --

  • No, I suppose we're fortunate, sir, in the respect that Cath and the deputy chief constable are both active members of the communications advisory group so we get an early heads up about the current thinking that's going on within the media world, and how it relates to policing.

  • Moving on to the question of leaks, Mr Vaughan, you've set out that in the past five years there have been three investigations into suspected leaks or unauthorised disclosures of information. In respect of one, it was positively identified that the source of the information was open court proceedings.

  • That was a false alarm, if you like?

  • There was another that was unsubstantiated, the allegation was unsubstantiated. Can you help with whether that source again was identified?

  • Same source. It was -- each of the cases relates to information about an arrested person's address and personal circumstances. Certainly with the -- there's one that's ongoing at the moment, but with the other two it's been confirmed that it was from the court, the open source of court, when the individual appeared there, that that information was provided then, rather than by our officers.

  • So in the case of those two investigations it's not been the case of not being able to prove a leak, you've positively proved there wasn't a leak?

  • At paragraphs 69 to 71 of your statement, you set out the systems and procedures in place to identify, respond to and detect the source of leaks. You say you have a well-resourced and dedicated anti-corruption unit with high levels of capability and capacity to investigate both speculatively and reactively. So that's a department that you consider is well funded, well resourced?

  • Yes, it's one that we unfortunately feel we need to resource properly. There's eight staff that work there, a detective inspector, detective sergeant, two DCs, an investigator, an administrator and an analyst, and outside the Metropolitan Police Force, we're certainly not the second-largest police force in the country, but we have the highest number of referral to our anti-corruption unit. We're very -- the local IPCC are complimentary about the way that we try and root out any malpractice, any wrongdoing. We try to get on the front foot to make sure we're ahead of it.

    In 2011 we had 153 referrals to the anti-corruption unit, which they then used technology and other traditional policing methods to determine the correct course of action from that then.

  • Leaving aside genuine whistle-blowing, can you help at all with what might be the driving forces behind a member of police staff or a police officer leaking information to the media or private detectives?

  • I think sometimes it could be out of misplaced loyalty, and certainly one of the examples that we had in our anti-corruption unit was one of the examples we followed through was a member of our staff providing information to a private detective who was a previous colleague of that individual. There's misguided loyalties. On occasions there will be money exchanging hands for that sort of information. I suppose we also get -- and I've heard other people that have spoken -- we're going through huge change with 420 people who no longer work for South Wales Police, and very often information about the structures and future systems of the organisation are shared with the press, not necessarily -- definitely not as damaging as divulging personal information or information from police systems, but that does go on from time to time.

  • So it's not a problem of members of staff going to work for the media and then using that information in their work, it's just former members of staff sharing that information once they're no longer employed by the force?

  • And I think employees who we're moving the location of their workplace, and if they're disgruntled about that, they might say that the service that we're going to be providing will be a lesser service, when the reality is the service will be a more efficient service, but those are the sort of leaks that you -- they will happen anyway, and we're well able to counter those and to manage them properly.

  • Some leaks are more serious than others?

  • Absolutely, absolutely.

  • You referred before, I believe, to Operation Boost?

  • That was a retired senior detective who had set up a private investigation firm?

  • In fact, Mrs Llewellyn you mentioned this particular operation in your witness statement. A police staff member was suspected of supplying that former officer with information. What was the outcome of that investigation?

  • Both individuals are serving or have served a fairly lengthy custodial sentence.

  • Thank you. So one was convicted of misconduct in public office, the other inciting misconduct in public office?

  • A few miscellaneous points. At paragraph 46, Mr Vaughan, of your statement, 00619, you're dealing with what the force is seeking to achieve through its contact with the media, and at the top of the next page you state that one of the aims is to provide public reassurance and to protect the reputation of South Wales and South Wales Police. Is protecting the reputation of South Wales Police a legitimate purpose for having contact with the media? Does it involve seeking to put a gloss on matters that might be damaging to the force's reputation?

  • I think anyone that has seen the media coverage of South Wales Police recently would say we've not put any gloss on trying to preserve the reputation of the organisation. For "reputation management", I would read for that: correcting any inaccuracies about where we've got thing wrong where they've actually gone right.

    For me, fundamental to all this is the vision of being the best at understanding what's important to our communities and doing something about it, and within our area there's a big difference between people's perception of what goes on and what is actually going on, and it's about trying to balance that in the most appropriate way you possibly can. We're not in the business of glossing over, providing good news stories, and I'm not comfortable, but I do accept that every so often there will be a newspaper article that will come out that will bruise the organisation. I think the thing to do is to counterbalance that with all the good work that we do and -- yeah.

  • You find generally that the media are prepared to be critical but also prepared to be complimentary?

  • Yes. I believe we have a healthy professional relationship between our local media.

  • Mrs Llewellyn, on the question of off-the-record briefings, communications, to what extent do you and your staff provide information off the record?

  • I would say that it isn't something that happens on a daily basis, but it is something that happens quite regularly.

  • What do you mean by "off the record"?

  • I mean information that has been given to a journalist to either provide important background information, ie to contextualise an issue, or information that's given to correct an inaccuracy, but importantly it is information that is not intended for print.

  • But it's not the non-attributable variety, it's the "do not publish" variety?

  • You say that you expect your staff to use their judgment as to when it's appropriate to give information off the record and to ask for help if they're not sure?

  • Are off-the-record communications -- perhaps you've already answered this -- something that you see as a valuable tool?

  • Yes, I think they are useful.

  • Could I give you an example of an off-the-record conversation? By that I would mean it's on our record, but we'd rather it be off the media record and not recorded or presented.

    Just before Christmas the year before, there was counter terrorism operation within the Cardiff area and a number of individuals were arrested and it quickly got into the media that a local shopping outlet was the target of their ambition and we had phone calls from the media to say, "We've heard that this was the target, this particular area was the target, is that right?" And we were able to say to the media outlets, because of the relationships that we'd developed with them of trust, that it wasn't that outlet, not tell them where it was, that the target of the activity was, but fairly and squarely saying that the communities of South Wales have nothing to worry about, go into this particular area, so it became a very useful method then of managing what could quickly have escalated out of control.

    From our perspective that, would have been recorded, the conversation, who we had it with, and documented as well.

  • So the trust went both ways. They trusted that you were telling the truth when you said, "You have your facts wrong" --

  • -- and you trusted them not to print --

  • It could also work the other way, because if they had been right --

  • -- and yet it might have impacted on your operations, you equally could have said, "Look, you're right, but if you publish this, it's going to have consequences A, B, C, D, which we're very keen to avoid and which aren't in the public interest, so please hold off and we'll tell you when you can say it."

  • Absolutely, sir. Perhaps that's a better example of -- you spoke earlier about additional briefings that you give to journalists in a large-scale inquiry, and with that particular incident we would have had a media strategy, we would have had briefings of individuals at relevant times to let them know what was going and what was likely to happen, and the good thing about that one and many other serious incidents that we deal with, the media tend to hold the line, or certainly the local media that we deal with tend to hold the line and the trust and the confidence is repaid.

  • Are you having to spend more time than you think appropriate or than you would wish on devising media strategies and dealing with the media? Is it becoming an increasingly difficult part of the responsibility of conducting major investigations?

  • No, sir, I think once you've done the one, it tends to follow the same format in terms of the time scales, the audiences, the milestones, and it's not a case of dusting the menu off the shelf, but it's a bit like the A to Z guide where there's areas of best practice that you know that work. They're not always relevant, but it's certainly something that we've used in South Wales Police for sometimes in terms of briefing the various audiences and the appropriate time to do that as well.

  • Mrs Llewellyn, you also give in your statement examples of where the relationship and trust works well, where, on your request, members of the media have not printed something that they otherwise would have done.

  • Can you give us one or two examples?

  • If it helps, the first is at paragraph 86 of your statement.

  • Oh, you want me to go through examples that I've already given --

  • If you would, yes, unless you've thought of a better one.

  • It's really just to provide the colour for them, because your statement will be published online, so people will be able to read it.

  • Okay, fine. I think one of the ones here that springs to mind is where, during a murder investigation where the suspect was abroad, a local media outlet got hold of that information and of course wanted to run that story. It would have been detrimental to the investigation for the name of that country to be revealed, and we asked the newspaper to withhold that information until we were in a position to make a formal announcement about that, and they did honour that. And in my experience that kind of -- the local media do tend to honour those kinds of requests.

  • You don't only have experience of the media honouring requests to delay publication, but you have examples of the media agreeing not to publish information at all?

  • Would you like to give any colour or --

  • Is that the one at paragraph 86 you're referring to? No, that's the one I just referred to.

  • Yes. That's at paragraph 87 of your statement.

  • Yes, that's right. This was, again, I think it was the same murder investigation where a document that had all sorts of information contained within it around suspects' names and potential motives had somehow found its way into the hands of a local journalist. Quite clearly it was of great interest to them and they contacted us and we advised them that it would cause untold damage not just to the investigation but it would also upset the family, and asked them not to publish it. They didn't publish it and they have never published that information.

  • There's one final example that you give where the media have voluntarily, not even on your request, but following information that you've given, decided not to publish information, and that's at paragraph 88.

  • Yes. I think what we're trying to illustrate there is that the media recognise that the information being published could cause some harm to the investigation and came to us just to confirm if that was the case. We did so, and they didn't run the story.

  • Unless there's anything you want to add to those, I'll move onto a different topic, and that's the question of whether either of you think there should be any restrictions of police officers leaving the police to work for the media, whether there should be a cooling-off period of any particular length of time. Mr Vaughan?

  • It's not our experience that individuals have left our organisation and gone to work with media outlets and it's certainly not the experience in the corporate communications department where people tend to stay for a very long time.

    I'm no legal expert, but I think that restrictive covenants are quite difficult to impose on individuals, but I personally wouldn't have any objection to, say, for example, myself, some sort of agreement with the Police Authority or the Police and Crime Commissioner in the future to say that I wouldn't actually engage in that sort of business for a period of time after I left the Police Service.

  • It's called restraint of trade.

  • It's legitimate at some levels but not necessarily at other levels.

  • So for the senior -- for ACPO rang ranking officers it may be reasonable to say there are some things which it's inappropriate for them to do and they take the job on that basis.

  • But if you tried to say, well, nobody who had ever been in the police could ever go into privacy enquiry work that would probably be quite difficult because of the risk of restraint of trade.

  • And I think similar with the police and crime commissioner is where as a retired Chief Constable you could eventually become a police and crime commissioner. It's very difficult to police. I personally wouldn't fall out with something that said that there would be an expectation that I wouldn't be engaged in a particular profession for a period of time.

  • Well, you can do it, and there's no question that time-limited restrictive covenants are common.

  • So if you work in a particular type of industry, it may very well be that you'd be prevented from going to a competitor for absolutely obvious reasons.

  • But if you try and do it for too long, then it will all fall --

  • Absolutely. The other thing that I would feel with that there would need to be some fairness across the police as well, so it wasn't just applying to police officers leaving their trade and moving into another area. As you say, it does happen in some other fields already.

  • Are you of the view that it would be a good idea? You said that you would be happy to consent to it yourself, but --

  • It's difficult to police, if that's the right word, and it probably would have to be a time limit around it, and if it only applied to police officers, the unfairness of it then, I think that would rankle. If it applied to other people in public office, then I certainly could live with that.

  • Yes. At paragraph 94 of your statement, Mr Vaughan, 00634, you were asked about instances of what we've called for convenience media crime, unlawful interception of communications, bribery, blackmail, harassment, traffic offences, inciting officials to communicate confidential information. You said that you have no -- not direct knowledge but having spoken to detective chief superintendent -- three chief superintendents, that they're not aware of any such crime occurring in the last two years, any reports of such offences?

  • Not in the last two years, no.

  • But that you don't have a particular category or categorisation of crime, of media crime, but it would be allocated as any other crime would be?

  • So it would be resourced or there would be a prioritisation decision?

  • And if specialist knowledge were required, then that crime would be directed to the specialist department?

  • That is correct, yes.

  • Jumping back to your A to Z guidelines, you set out a brief policy on what we've been again calling as a shorthand media ride-alongs, involvement of media in police operations. That's page 27 of 471 internally, or 00161 on our numbering. The section is entitled:

    "Agreements with programme makers and for taking media on police operations (ACPO)."

    First of all, do you see value in the media joining police operations?

  • Yes, I think it's got to be proportionate and we've had experience of engaging with some programmes where we probably wished we didn't and we hadn't engaged with them.

  • What went wrong with those?

  • The programme Traffic Cops, I think it's a hugely popular show, but it keeps being reshown on different satellite channels, and perhaps some of the behaviour that you see on that isn't the behaviour that you would want reflected into the wider community and the longer it goes from the show to -- you know, it's a number of years since the last time that the show came to South Wales Police. Some of those instances aren't the organisation that I want to reflect as being representative of South Wales Police.

  • You're talking about behaviour of police officers?

  • One might argue that that's in the public interest because it's exposed behaviour such that you feel that you need to take remedial steps.

  • Perversely for us it was an opportunity for us to see the way that our staff behaved and to address that.

  • Of course yes. What you're saying is not that it was a bad idea at the time, but it's rather unfortunate that the same programme gets repeated and therefore creates a perception that that's what it is today as opposed to what it was five years ago.

  • Absolutely, sir, and we use it in our values and standards training where we show the behaviour, the dress of certain officers that appeared in that show, compared to other officers who were professional, they were proud of the way they went about their business, and we use it to emphasise the positive rather than the negative. It's a bit of a double-edged sword. It's shaped our -- the way that we engage with the media.

    Very important to us is what are we trying to get -- what can we get out of it? What are the media trying to get out of it? I think it's very important that we're held to account for our activities and it's important that the public see that policing isn't just about knocking down people's doors, discovering cannabis plants and dealing with violent people. There's a whole host of roles that my officers and staff deal with, so for us now, if we do have any requests, it tends to be to look at the other functions, the other individuals that help the police force -- help us able to do the job on the front line.

  • We see from the policy that you do have -- the policy directly identifies that Article 8 rights need to be considered, and privacy considerations. You have a paragraph "Attendance of media on police operations":

    "In reaching any agreement to co-operate, and in particular where it involves taking media on police operations, forces should further consider whether such action would:

    "Interfere with an individual's rights to a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.

    "Interfere with an individual's rights to privacy under the Human Rights Act (which may be affected by entering private property without permission, taking film or photographs on private property without permission and broadcasting or publishing any such material).

    "Cause unjustifiable distress or harassment to those being investigated.

    "Prejudice the innocent.

    "Cause distress to innocent members of the public, or

    "Jeopardise future police operations."

    You've said that your force participated in Traffic Cops is the example that you've given. Did you have any complaints from members of the public or suspects about the way those operations were conducted?

  • One of our officers, I think, even ended up with a following on Twitter because the community liked the way that he went about his business. We had one or two complaints, we had one or two congratulations about the way that we did business, so it was a mixed bag, really.

  • You hope to continue them but covering a wider field of police areas?

  • And ensuring it reflects what you perceive to be best practice?

  • Absolutely, sir, and the paragraph that's shown on the screen there about the people's rights and our responsibility to look after those. The last thing in the world that we'd want to do is to jeopardise any criminal investigation or to prejudice any innocent people.

  • Before I move on to the future, is there anything you wanted to add to your earlier answer about what you've learned from or the force has learned from media strategies in high profile investigations or incidents?

  • I hope I covered that with the example around the counter-terrorist exercise so I'm okay with that one, thank you very much.

  • Okay. In terms of the future, the South Wales Police is currently undertaking a review of the key policies. It goes without saying that you'll be awaiting the outcome of this Inquiry and also your force will be considering the HMIC recommendations and also the Filkin report?

  • You say that presently you're scoping for implementation of an electronic recording system; is that right?

  • That's recording of media contacts; is that right, Mrs Llewellyn?

  • Which will facilitate scrutiny and review, so that's one system that you're looking to bring into force. Mrs Llewellyn, you also say that you feel there's a need for more bespoke training for press officers at a national level. What sort of topics or areas do you feel should receive particular emphasis?

  • Very much the topics that you've been discussing as part of this Inquiry, so issues about appropriate behaviour with the media and, you know, the value of off-the-record conversations, hospitality, all the sorts of issues you've been discussing here, and what we have at the moment is very much on the job training from people who have worked within the corporate communications arena and indeed the policing environment for several years, but in terms of any substantial bespoke training there is a distinct lack of that for police communication professionals, and I'd like to see more of that readily available.

  • Does there need to be more bespoke training for individual police officers on how to handle the media?

  • I think that within the training we already have there is significant focus on values and standards and also media handling. It may be that Mr Vaughan is better --

  • Yes, certainly with what we would term as critical incidents, major incidents and serious incidents, the training tends to be focused on your media strategy, the way that you interact with the media. In that training we'll bring in external reporters who will put our officers through a tough time. The values and standards training, as Cath has said, is probably about the ethics and ethical conduct, and the way that I would expect and the Police Authority would expect the South Wales police officers and staff to go about their business.

    Probably within that could be a little bit more around the way that we interact with the media. I wouldn't want it to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, because hopefully you've heard from the journalists from Wales and from ourselves, it's not a huge problem. It's not a cosy relationship. It can sometimes be a little bit brutal, but it's open, it's honest and it's fairly professional.

  • Is there anything either of you wish to add to anything you've said before?

  • I think on -- sir, you asked a question yesterday about is there anything different about the way that we do things in Wales.

  • Yes, if you hadn't been prepared to offer that, I was just about to ask you.

  • It was -- probably it touched on the integrity that was mentioned about the we're a small village and I will keep bumping into the same people at different locations, at different events. You've heard from our media that it's the same for them, and if you treat them with disrespect, if you trample -- metaphorically trample on their toes, you're not going to have a good service from them or you're not going to have a good reaction from them in the future.

    So it feels -- although geographically it's a big area, it feels quite a small -- a large village is probably the best description I can give of it and that then influences your behaviour, it influences the behaviour of the people that work around you. I know that's the case for my organisation and probably the case for it sounds like media outlets as well.

  • Thank you very much.

  • Thank you both very much indeed for the assistance and the obvious work you've put into the statements that you've made. I'm very grateful. Thank you.

  • Sir, may I just add that the statement of Mark Thompson is to be read in.

  • Very good. Thank you very much indeed. Monday morning, 10 o'clock.

  • (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock on Monday, 26 March 2012)