Police officers at the main entrance to Dale farm

Police are often confused about what the term 'off the record' means

Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Journalists and the police need to agree on a national set of guidelines on "off the record" conversations – and what the term actually means – the chairman of the Police Federation has recommended.

Speaking at the Leveson inquiry today, Paul McKeever, whose staff association represents 136,000 officers from all 43 major police forces in England and Wales, said national guidance was needed on the issue.

The inquiry has heard frequently from police officers and some journalists about different interpretations of "off the record" - whether it means information cannot be used at all, or used without attributing its source.

"I think there is some confusion about what the definition actually means," McKeever told the Leveson inquiry today.

He also called for better guidance on hospitality - a clear set of rules "on what is acceptable and what is not - on a national level".

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