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Editor hits back at criticism over Christmas-themed police appeal series

Samantha HarmanA regional daily editor has hit back at criticism over a series of Christmas-themed police appeals carried in her newspaper.

Samantha Harman, pictured, has responded to what she says has been several complaints about the ’12 Days of Christmas’ crime appeals series currently being published in the Oxford Mail.

The Mail has been profiling one of Oxfordshire’s 12 most wanted criminals each day, according to the charity Crimestoppers.

But, according to Samantha, a number of readers have accused the paper of “picking and choosing” the suspects being featured.

Each appeal has featured accompanying copy making clear those featured have been listed as ‘most wanted’ by Crimestoppers, not the Mail.

In an editorial responding to the criticism, Samantha wrote: “If you’re a regular reader of the Mail, or any local newspaper, you’ll see such appeals on a daily basis. The police need the public’s help in keeping the public safe – and the paper acts as a vehicle for that.

“We have had several complaints regarding our 12 Days of Christmas crime appeals. Some of those complainants have accused us of picking and choosing who is featured. That is simply not the case.

“We would like to make it very clear that the people featuring have been listed as ‘most wanted’ by crime agencies, not the Oxford Mail. Crime agencies, using their professional judgement, need to apprehend these people based a) their alleged crimes b) risk to the general public.

“It is not up to the Oxford Mail to decide who is wanted by the police. The Oxford Mail is acting in the public interest in publishing the details. These appeals simply contain a description of the alleged criminal and details of their alleged crime (as provided by the police).

“It is literally the job of the police to keep you safe. One of the most successful ways they get information is through public appeals.”

She added: “If one of the wanted people commits another crime, residents, rightly, would be asking the police ‘why didn’t you do more to apprehend them?’ And if we didn’t report on these appeals, residents (again, rightly) would be asking ‘why didn’t you report this information?'”


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  • December 23, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    What a dismal reflection on the low esteem in which newspapers are now held. Newspaper carries appeal to get criminals caught, and the response is that some small-minded, over-entitled readers quibble about their selections. I’d be sorely tempted to tell those complainers to **** right off. For god’s sake, people…what do you want of your local paper other than that it acts as a community conscience, reporting on the bad guys in an effort to get them to justice?

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  • December 23, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Its the job of the editor to question rubbish supplied by a press office. If the readers are moaning, its generally for good reason.

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