Essex journalists cop an ear full

Essex Police press office put out a message on its police tapes last week asking local journalists enquiring for information to be more patient and stop hounding them with questions.

One journalist on a local daily described the move as: “The latest in a long-running saga with this press officer, who appears to have a distinct dislike of journalists and the media, never failing to be unhelpful.”

The press officer said via the tape: “We have recently been experiencing reporters from the same newspaper or organisation making the same or similar requests and journalists who have lodged these requests are continuing to continually ring to check on progress.

We would ask that you refrain from doing this as it does slow down the process.

“All press officers are fully appreciative of deadlines and it’s helpful at the outset of an enquiry that you discuss your deadline requirements.

“In addition, during investigations members of the media are reminded that proper procedures must be carried out prior to the release of personal information, in particular formal identification of dead people, post mortem examination results and charging of suspects.

Essex Police has a duty of care first and foremost to victims’ families and will wait until all family related issues have been addressed and processes completed prior to release of such sensitive information to the media.

“Neither family members nor investigating officers conduct their business in order to meet media deadlines and members of the media are reminded of this.”

Martin McNeill, editor of the Echo covering Basildon and Southend, said in response: “As a daily paper in a very newsy area, inevitably the Echo is going to be asking the police a lot of questions. That’s part of our job.”

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