Section 8: Reporting Crime and Anti-social Behaviour - Introduction

Section 8.1

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The BBC reports crime and anti-social behaviour as a matter of public interest. Our coverage is aimed at giving audiences the facts in their context and reflects our right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas [1].

The BBC will also reflect the work of the agencies which fight crime, examine the nature of criminality, and report on its causes and consequences.

Some of this output is likely to require production methods that carry risks and we must weigh them up, and ensure we act proportionately, so that we observe appropriate standards of behaviour, consider the consequences of our actions and avoid obstructing the work of the authorities.

This output is also likely to involve contributions from, or contact with, people who have engaged in criminal or anti-social acts. We must ensure that we do not glamorise, condone or encourage criminal behaviour. We must seek to balance the public interest [2] in reporting crime with respect for the privacy and dignity of victims and their families. We should ensure our reporting does not add to people’s fear of becoming victims of crime if statistics suggest it is very unlikely.

Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime, or lead to disorder, must not be included in our services. There will be times when it is in the public interest to include extreme or challenging views. On those occasions, we must provide sufficient context and/or challenge to those views. Context includes the editorial purpose of the output. Detailed descriptions or demonstrations of criminal techniques which could enable the commission of illegality should not be included unless editorially justified.

Investigations into crime or anti-social behaviour, which involve deception and/or intrusion, must be editorially justified and proportionate to the wrongdoing they seek to expose.

We must ensure that material which contains hate speech is not included in our output without editorial justification.

(See Section 5 Harm and Offence: 5.3.38)

[1]The sections of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code that relate to this are 3: Crime, Disorder, Hatred and Abuse and 8: Privacy.

[2]See Section 1 The BBC’s Editorial Standards: 1.3 The Public Interest.

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