This page gives advice and information about:
- Police help with the media
- Solicitor help with the media
- Photographs and videos
- Being interviewed by a journalist
- Making a comment or complaint about the media
- The use of social media
You cannot stop the media from reporting on your case or publishing your name or where you are from. Journalists may publish or broadcast stories about your case without talking to you, or they may phone you, knock on your door, or approach you at a court hearing for a comment. They may ask to interview you or photograph you.
They may ask for photographs or videos of an injured person before they were injured, or afterwards. Journalists may also search social media for photographs or information they can use in their story.
Different people feel differently about the media. You may feel grateful for media coverage, or dislike it, or feel disappointed that there isn't more media coverage. It is up to you whether you talk to journalists or not.
You may decide to talk to journalists to help raise awareness of road safety, or to help find witnesses to the crash. You may find that you prefer to talk to some journalists but not to others. You may decide not to talk to journalists for personal reasons.
If you aren't contacted by journalists but want media coverage, you can contact them. You can ring up, email, or write to journalists. Alternatively, your solicitor or the police may be able to help you liaise with journalists.
Ask your police contact or your solicitor if there is anything you shouldn't talk about to journalists. If someone is accused of causing the crash, it is important not to make comments that could create problems for a police investigation, a criminal trial or a compensation claim.
Police help with the media
The police may be able to help you manage your relationship with the media, particularly in the first few days after the crash or around any court case.
If your case involved a death as well as serious injury, police best practice is to help you develop a ‘media strategy’ that takes into account your views on media coverage.
The police often release their own media statements about crashes and any resulting court cases to the media and will be able to give these to you.
Your police contact should be able to pass on to the media any written statement you want to make, any photograph you want to see published, or home video you want broadcast.
Solicitor help with the media
If you have instructed a solicitor to pursue a claim for financial support, you can ask them to deal with the media on your behalf. Your solicitor can help you draft statements, organise photographs, and explain what you can and cannot say, and why.
Photographs and videos
Sometimes families affected by crashes give the media a photo of an injured loved one, or a photo of them ill in hospital. They might do this as part of an appeal for witnesses or to explain to others the horrors of crashes. This is a personal choice. If you are doing this, you can ask the media to use a photo for a specific purpose and on one occasion, if you want, accompanied by specific words from you, and ask for the photo not to be used again.
If you would like a photo to be used on just one occasion, you should agree this with the journalist who contacts you, before the photo is used. It is a good idea to get a record of this agreement, for example by asking the journalist to email you, or asking the journalist if you can record their verbal agreement on your mobile phone.
You can release a photo to just one journalist or lots of journalists. Your police contact may be able to help.
You are advised not to give original photos or home videos to the media in case they lose them. It is better to give the media a digital copy, if you can.
Being interviewed by a journalist
Being interviewed by a journalist can be hard, particularly if they are a stranger and they want you to talk about how you feel. It can be particularly hard to do interviews that are being broadcast on radio or TV.
If you decide to talk to a journalist, it can help to ask in advance what questions they want to ask, and to think what you might want to say. If you are doing an interview at a radio or TV station you might want to take a friend for support, or, if you would prefer, ask for the interview to be done at your home.
Making a comment or complaint about the media
If you are unhappy with a journalist's conduct or think that a journalist has published or broadcast something that is incorrect or unfair, you can make a complaint to the relevant media outlet, following their published complaints procedure. Sometimes the media offers to print or broadcast an apology.
A newspaper or magazine may offer to print a letter from you.
Media outlets often sign up to codes of practice that require them to respect privacy and feelings of victims. To read these codes, visit www.brake.org.uk/codes-and-standards
If you feel you are being harassed by a journalist, contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) helpline: 07799 903 929.
To make a complaint about broadcasting, go to www.ofcom.org.uk or call 0300 123 3333.
Communicating with friends, family or colleagues through social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) is an important part of many people's lives. You may find comfort and support through your use of social media at this time.
It is important not to make comments publicly on websites that could create problems for a police investigation, a criminal prosecution or a claim for financial support. If you wish to discuss such things with people who are close to you, it is safest to do so only through private messaging or email.
There are websites that encourage people to state their views on public forums (for example, on news websites). These forums often contain a variety of views. Some may not be sensitively worded nor fair comment. They may contain incorrect information.
A driver who has caused a crash may also post things on their own social media accounts that you may find upsetting. For your wellbeing, you may choose to avoid sites which could contain insensitive posts or incorrect information, and only visit places on the internet where you feel safe, supported and can trust what you are reading.
If you feel you are suffering online harassment, for example threats to harm you physically, talk to the police.