Mobile phones and other appliances at ONS lock-in briefings
As you know, long-established practice at ONS lock-in briefings is for journalists to be instructed to switch off their mobile phones and similar devices and place these on the table where they can be seen.
We have decided that these measures are no longer sufficiently secure. We will introduce the following procedure with effect from 20 October 2009:
• Journalists will be required to put their phones/appliances in a labelled box specific to their agency (provided by ONS)
• Before locking the room and handing out briefing material, the ONS media relations officers will lock the boxes in the media relations office safe which is situated outside the briefing room
• At 9.30, the media relations officers will return the box to that agency’s desk and journalists will reclaim their appliances.
This is line with common practice in lock-in briefings elsewhere within government. This approach is the least bureaucratic and time-wasting method while at the same time the most secure for your property – because the phones will be in a locked safe.
No journalist or observer should have a mobile telephone in their possession during a briefing. We will take it on trust that all such appliances have been placed in the secure boxes. Anyone found not to have declared a phone will be in breach and their agency will be suspended immediately for an indefinite period. If people do not wish to hand in their phones they should not bring them to lock-in briefings. There will be no exceptions.
Head of Media Relations
Related: Bloomberg article from this summer on suspicious trading of Canadian Dollar.