Journalists in the North West of England, in common with colleagues around the country, have become used to the fact that friendly chats with desk sergeants have become a thing of the past in the age of the press officer.
So some are scratching their heads over an email from Lancashire Constabulary’s PR department informing them that due to cutbacks they will no longer be answering press calls at evenings and weekends. Instead, journalists have been told: “Media enquiries during out of office hours must be made to your local established contacts.”
One Manchester-based journalist told Axegrinder: “This is quite a 'reverse ferret' from a police press office which, like most around the country, has made great efforts in the past five years to insist all communication goes through their clammy fingers.
“Officers have been discouraged from direct communication with reporters so much so that the new breed of officers and sergeants are robotically trained to respond to even the softest of direct phone calls with a 'you'll have to speak to the press office'.
“Along with Leveson and phone-hacking, the rise of corporate comms has contributed to the death of healthy journalist/police relationships.
"And now they say that journalists should 'speak to local contacts'. Well I'd be surprised if there are any left.”