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Trainer’s assignment prompts journalism student to land national scoop

Eloise HillA journalism student landed a national scoop after being set an investigative assignment by her trainer.

A story produced by Eloise Hill, who studies at the University of Portsmouth, hit the headlines after being picked up by the Press Association and sent out to all UK national media.

The third-year undergraduate had been tasked by her journalism lecturer, Paul Foster, to write a news feature based on Freedom of Information responses he had received about the ‘Sarah’s Law’ scheme.

Officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, the legislation allows anyone to ask their local police force if someone has a record of committing crimes against children.

The FoI requests – sent to police forces across the UK – revealed there had been 16,900 applications to the Sarah’s Law scheme since it began in 2011, with 1,400 parents being told that an individual with access to their child or children is a sex offender.

The story was featured in The Sun, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, while localised versions were also sent out to local newspapers.

Eloise, pictured, said: “I’m really excited to have one of my pieces submitted to the Press Association.

“It was a difficult piece to research so I’m pleased that it could potentially reach a wider audience.”

Paul added: “This was a great example of what we do here at Portsmouth. We want our journalism students to push the boundaries and get themselves published locally and nationally.

“This feature wasn’t an easy task – it can be a real challenge dealing with huge amounts of data like this.

“But Eloise did extremely well in analysing the figures, then tracking down sources and writing it up. It was first-hand experience of investigative journalism.”