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PPA Press Cards

You do not need to ask permission from anyone to be a journalist in Britain. However, it is sometimes useful to be able to identify yourself as a Journalist when needed. There is a scheme authorised and approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland which issues Press Cards for newsgatherers. There are sixteen groups (known as Gatekeepers) who issue these cards on behalf of the organising committee. For a full list visit www.presscard.uk.com. PPA is one of the sixteen and covers the UK magazine industry and associated areas of publishing. PPA Press Cards are one of the services provided to our publisher membership, and PPA cards will only be issued to their staff or freelancers or other suppliers sponsored and approved by a member.

Cards are for newsgatherers - sales and PR personnel are not eligible.

All the cards are identical except for the issuing group’s logo in the top right hand corner, and contain the sponsoring company name, the holder’s name and job title, expiry date, serial number and a photograph.

Press Cards just identify the holder as a newsgatherer, and give no authority or privileges. UK Police forces accept the cards as a means of identification, and may, at their discretion, give holders access beyond that afforded to the general public. Access to any major or Royal event will probably need additional passes as well as a Press Card. Call PPA for further details.

Applying for a PPA Press Card
The application form asks for the information to appear on the card, and for additional information such as date of birth, address and signature, and for security purposes a signature from the sponsoring PPA member to certify that the applicant fulfils the criteria for issue.

Application forms are available here, and we need a photograph and a cheque for £11.75 (inc VAT).

We just need a cheque for £11.75 (inc VAT), and a note of any changes to be made. Renewal applications must come from the sponsoring Member.

If cards have to be posted to the producer (to include a photograph), posted back to us and then on to you, this takes ten to fourteen days. You can reduce this time by downloading an application form, get it approved by your PPA member contact and getting them to fax it to us on 020 7404 4167.

Use of Press Cards
Press Cards from all gatekeepers are processed by the same supplier, who maintains a log of cards issued, and checks for duplicate applications, etc. One of the questions on the application form is for a “pin number”, as with a credit card. This, together with the card serial number, is supplied to an office at Scotland Yard in London. The telephone number of this contact point is included on the back of the press cards, and anyone you present the card to has the right to phone up and check. They do this by quoting the number on the card and the pin number you give them and ask if they match those on the list they hold. Scotland Yard do not have any further information, which all stays with the Gatekeeper.

PPA issued Press Cards are valid for up to a year, after which they must be renewed.

Overseas use
Press Cards are intended for use in the UK, and technically have no validity overseas. However, in many parts of the world journalists have to carry identification cards and PPA Press Cards are in regular use abroad for this purpose. The words “Press Card” and “Scotland Yard” have been known to open many a closed door – but don’t press your luck too far! The verification procedure will work from abroad, but Scotland Yard will not accept reverse charge calls.

Complaints about the system or refusals to supply a card should be made to the Gatekeeper causing the problem, and these will be discussed at the next meeting of the co-ordinating committee, which meets quarterly.

Please remember that you do not need a Press Card to work as a journalist. A letter of introduction from your editor on headed paper will suffice in many cases, and several of the Gatekeepers are trade unions who will be happy to welcome individuals.

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