CPS agreement allows weekly to show CCTV assault film

By Sarah Lagan

The Newbury Weekly News has succeeded in using the new Crown Prosecution Service protocol to stream CCTV film of a violent assault on its website. The video, which was used as evidence in crown court, shows a group of teenage thugs beating and kicking a man until, and after, he was unconscious.

Magistrates told the defendants they "were lucky not to have killed him".

Weekly News editor Brien Barrell said she believed that although it can be time-consuming, the media should make use of the new protocol, especially in such serious cases of public interest.

She said: "This attack was particularly vicious. We are keen to use whatever permissions and resources are available to bring readers information.

If that involves showing this sort of coverage then that is an opportunity for a paper to add something extra for readers and users.

"If these permissions exist, but are not used, they can easily be dropped. It does constitute a lot of work, you do have to be dogged, but when we have these opportunities and provisions, they are definitely worth exploring."

After admitting actual bodily harm, the eldest of four youths was jailed for a year at Reading Crown Court. Three younger teenagers, who admitted the same charge, were sentenced to eight months’ detention at Newbury Youth Court.

The Weekly News originally published a still image of the film, shortly after the defendants were sentenced. After sentencing, it then took nearly a month of negotiations with the victim, and gaining support from Thames Valley Police and the CPS, before it could stream it on its website, newburytoday.co.uk.

Meridian TV followed up the story the following evening.

The protocol, launched at the Society of Editors’ conference last October, was agreed between the CPS, the Association of Chief Police Officers and media representatives to promote openness and greater access to prosecution material used in criminal trials.

The Weekly News is one of the few regional newspapers to have daily bulletins with video on their site.

In April last year, the Liverpool Echo streamed CCTV film of a yob attack on an off-licence and increased web traffic by 25 per cent.

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