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Police force says sorry to newspaper over inaccuracy claims

Patrick Phelvin 1A police force has publicly apologised to a weekly newspaper after accusing it of printing “misleading and inaccurate” stories.

Devon & Cornwall Police criticised the Mid Devon Gazette after it published a story about the force’s handling of a case involving children who had been found having under-age sex and taking drugs at a property in Tiverton.

The Gazette reported that Devon County Council said the force had failed to inform child protection officers about goings-on at the property for three years before it was shut down by a court last year.

The initial statement, posted on three Facebook profiles operated by police in December, said the force had “no confidence that any conversation with the Gazette will result in any copy being accurately or fairly represented.”

However, it has now used the social media site to issue a public apology to staff at the Gazette, as illustrated shown below.

In it, the force confirmed it had “reviewed” the paper’s coverage and was now happy to clarfiy that it had “no issues” with it.

Tiverton apology

Commenting on the move, Gazette editor Patrick Phelvin, pictured above, said: “I am glad the force has made this apology and look forward to putting the matter behind us.

“In the last year we have written reams of positive and helpful articles by working with police, yet reporters found themselves criticised by the force on social media because of a handful of stories which the force deemed to be negative but which we would argue were very much in the public interest, particularly post-Rotherham.

“Because of the broad way it was written, the initial post was damaging to the reputation of editorial staff, some of whom had had little or no dealings with the police.

“It was particularly harmful because we live in a small community and the police force is seen as a trustworthy source.”

In the original Facebook post, shown below, the force stated:  “We feel a community newspaper has a duty to accurately and fairly represent what is happening in the areas they serve – we don’t believe the reporting and editorial direction of the Gazette currently fulfils this.

“Until this is the case, we feel unable to have the confidence in speaking to one of the newspaper’s reporters directly.”

The initial Facebook post from December which criticised the Gazette

The initial Facebook post from December which criticised the Gazette



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  • March 17, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Usual police reaction to stories they don’t like. Spit their dummies out and take their balls home. Pathetic really.

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  • March 17, 2016 at 8:44 am

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if M’Learned Friend has pointed out that libelling local newspaper journalists wholesale isn’t a great idea. After all, the Police Federation has mounted plenty of actions the other way round, often with devastating effect.

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  • March 17, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel

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  • March 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Many police officers – like councillors and council officers – have no interest in grasping their true relationship to the populace, often behaving as a law unto themselves, rather than public servants paid for by us citizens to enforce it. Newspapers speaking for the public are therefore viewed as hostile and there to be traduced. Lose the local press and these people will go unchallenged.

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  • March 17, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Looking on the Tiverton Police Facebook page it appears this is the most exciting thing that’s happened there for months.

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  • March 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Great apology from the force (!)

    Not sure the reporting staff would agree the relationsghip was positive, after being nearly libelled and having their reputations sullied by their local police force.

    Hope Patrick makes this a front page and then has his own say on it. And then starts talking seriously to the police Director of Communication about how they deal with the press.

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  • March 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Don’t forget, the police are doing us a favour by turning up for work!

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  • March 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Devon and Cornwall Police press office is dreadful. Having worked in the area, I got on very well with individual officers and did run a great many stories that were positive pr.
    But when it came to the press office it seemed as if they would never pick up the phone. They certainly had no out of hours service. And had no consideration of the local press’s deadlines.
    On top of everything else they were one of the first forces to demand that there be absolutely no contact between reporters and individual officers (I believe they did relent and allow content with weekly newspapers).
    And now we have this…
    It’s all very well demanding the media channels its inquiries through the press office but they must then be prepared to provide the service. Putting out a few pathetic press releases is not enough and their head of comms should be considering what kind of service they should be providing to best serve the public.

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