The Express & Echo in Exeter is pioneering a new training course to give reporters greater confidence in dealing with the police.
With police contact forming a big part of the journalists’ workload, it was felt the training, run by a former police officer, would provide a useful refresher for newsroom staff.
And the course could soon be extended to other centres in the Northcliffe group.
The newspaper played host to three pilot one-day workshops called Media and the Law, which helped give journalists a more comprehensive understanding of how the police work.
Reporters from the Echo were joined by colleagues from the Torquay Herald Express, Plymouth Evening Herald, North Devon Journal and Mid Devon Gazette, and were given the chance to learn more about the police rank structure, definitions of crime, the courts structure, human rights legislation and press and police relations.
Echo deputy editor Tim Dixon said: “There are plenty of law courses which papers can put their reporters on, but they tend to major on the Essential Law book.
“I’ve felt for a long time that we don’t know enough about how police work and that this kind of course would give reporters more confidence.
“The feedback I’ve had has been very positive.”
The course was devised by independent training consultant Darby Allen, a former Devon and Cornwall Constabulary police officer who trains policemen and women for forces all over Britain.
Each course concluded with an hour-long workshop session involving Devon and Cornwall Police’s media relations manager Sgt Alan Mobbs, where journalists were able to talk about any problems they may have previously encountered, and discuss their best and worst experiences of dealing with the police.
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