Producers Handbook


You are making a documentary film about disaffected youth in a particular city and you are filming with a group of young people that live on an estate. One teenager admits on camera that he sells drugs.

He offers to sell you some cannabis and also invites you to film him selling drugs to others. He says there's a pub on the other side of town where he regularly sells. However, he doesn't have transport so says that if you want to film him, you'll have to give him a lift in your car. He also says he's hard up so would need paying £50 to cover his time. He asks if he can have the money up front now as he is meeting his supplier in half an hour and he's £50 short of cash for his next supply. What do you do?

First, ask yourself: is he telling the truth? Why would he lie? Does he fully understand that what he is saying is being recorded and is likely to be seen by others? What might be the consequences for him and you? He's offered to let you film him actually doing drug deals? Why is he letting you do this? Also, think about your safety. Are you on your own? What danger might you be putting yourself in?

He’s offered to sell you cannabis. Obviously, if you accept, you will be in possession of a controlled substance and will be committing a criminal offence, so refuse (unless of course this is an undercover investigation, the very purpose of which is to reveal him selling drugs – in which case see below).

He asks you for a lift to a place where he can sell drugs. He hadn’t intended going there today but is willing to do so, so you can film him. In such circumstances, the contributor is doing something that he would not otherwise have done, had it not been for your intervention and, by giving him a lift, you may be assisting the commission of a criminal offence i.e. taking him to a place for the specific purpose of selling illegal drugs. Decline to give him a lift.

If, after careful thought, you decide that it is important to film such a scene and that it’s safe to do so, you could agree to film him selling drugs but only when he would be doing it in any event. He could tell you of a suitable opportunity to film him. In these circumstances, you are not causing something to happen that wouldn’t have otherwise, you are merely there observing.

Finally, he's asked you for £50. Not only is paying him likely to breach regulatory rules (see 'Crime'), because there is unlikely to be a public interest in making such a payment, but also think about how the payment might be perceived by others such as the police. What if the contributor is later arrested and the police quiz you about your involvement. The truth would be that you had paid this person £50, knowing that the money was to be used to buy drugs which he was going to sell on. Again, this may be seen as assisting the commission of a criminal offence. Decline to make any payment.

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