POLICE yesterday used court orders to seize TV film in their investigations into Edinburgh street clashes ahead of the G8 summit, provoking attacks on broadcasters for giving in to detectives' demands.

The BBC and Scottish Television each handed over at least 12 tapes of varying length, with Sky Television drawn into the seizures as well.

The co-operation of the broadcasters was criticised last night by journalists' representatives after it emerged police were allowed to view extensive footage without a full court order being issued. They were therefore able to choose which parts of footage they wanted to remove and use as evidence.

The broadcasters insist that a warrant is required before any such tapes can be taken away, but argue they cannot stop the court orders from forcing them to release at least some material.

Following past confrontations between Scottish-based broadcasters and the police - notably the Zircon affair in 1987, when police raided the BBC's Glasgow studios in a row over a programme about a secret government spy satellite project - TV journalists cooperate informally with police investigators to avoid a broadranging warrant allowing wideranging seizures of all tapes and notebooks.

The police action follows extensive disruption in central Edinburgh on July 4, when more than 1000 anarchists and anti-globalisation protesters took to the capital's streets in a series of confrontations.

Although police had extensive evidence-gathering teams of their own, using still and film cameras, they lodged their request in mid-July to have all the broadcasters' footage recorded that day, but the BBC and Scottish Television successfully challenged this. They then agreed that police could view the tapes before deciding what they wanted to seize.

BBC journalists met yesterday in Glasgow and expressed concern at the level of co-operation between management and police.

The National Union of Journalists said it was dangerous for camera teams if protesters knew footage was likely to be used by police for evidencegathering.

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, said: "The press has a certain role to play and it's not about providing information to the authorities.

"Our concern is that this could jeopardise journalists covering these events in future.

Camera crews can come under threat from anarchists if it's perceived that police can get access to their footage."

Colin Fox, convener of the Scottish Socialist party and currently suspended as an MSP in connection with protests inside parliament about the G8 summit, said he was taking up the issue with BBC management.

"The same BBC fought to keep confidential interviews - mainly with people now dead - about the building of the Holyrood parliament, " he said.

"Any release of unbroadcast material to the police would not only be a serious break with normal practice but could endanger journalists covering such events in future."