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.
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.”