Media communication principles

What are they?

The Police and Border Guard Board’s media relations principles are based on the board’s core values codes of ethics for journalism and PR and valid legal acts.

Media relations at Police and Border Guard Board are organized by the communication office, which helps to find answers to questions from journalists, intermediates interview requests and is the primary point of contact for journalists’.

The primary information released about events or a crime report generally includes a brief description of the event, the location (county, village/settlement, and street name in larger towns) and date/time; data on casualties, but not before next of kin of fatalities have been notified, and data on the suspects detained at the scene (gender, age/year of birth). The person conducting proceedings on a specific offence or person resolving an incident has the right to more precisely delimit the volume of information subject to release as primary information.

Criminal proceedings shall be led by the prosecutor’s office, and thus additional information on criminal proceedings is available above all from the press representative of the relevant circuit prosecutor’s office. Other parties, including the police, may release data on pre-trial proceedings only on conditions set forth in the Code of Criminal Procedure and with the permission of the prosecutor in charge of the proceedings.

When forwarding information on participants in an event, we release the gender and age of the person (year of birth). We release the first name of the person only if they cannot be identified by third parties based on the name. In the case of a minor, we mention only the gender and age.

In the case of a person who was driving while intoxicated, we do not release detailed information on the state of intoxication, as this is sensitive information on a person’s state of health, and disclosure of this information requires the consent from the person themselves under the Personal Data Protection Act.

When releasing information on a bomb threat or attack, we keep in mind that coverage of these topics may result in a spate of copycat threats.

On ethical considerations, the Police and Border Guard Board does not give out detailed information on incidents of suicide, rape or offences against the right of sexual self-determination.

As to cases under proceedings in other countries, we forward information only with the permission of that country’s law enforcement body.

Pursuant to the Penal Code Act, the police do not release criminal records database information to third parties. The Personal Data Protection Act prohibits the release of pictures of persons.

When inviting journalists to attend events or accompany Police and Border Guard Board officials while they are carrying out their official duties, agreement must be reached with the Police and Border Guard Board communication office and permission from the official responsible for resolving the incident is also required. At the scene of an incident, we expect journalists to comply without exception with police officials’ orders and if so requested by a communication staffer, prosecutor, police official, to coordinate the part of the recorded materials that will be released to the public. We also expect journalists to follow the code of journalistic ethics in Estonia, and the requirements stemming from the Personal Data Protection Act and other legal acts.

Criminal statistics are released based on the valid procedure for publication of criminal statistics by the Ministry of Justice

Characteristically for the Police and Border Guard Board’s field of activity, the board’s has press representatives who are on duty on weekends as well to provide journalists with information on extraordinary events.