Police slammed for silence over stabbing

The Buckinghamshire Examiner has highlighted the way Thames Valley Police failed to give details to the media of an incident before Christmas in which a teenager was stabbed.

The paper broke the story last week after it was picked up by its reporter Jon Fisher.

He found out via a contact that a 17year-old youth had been grabbed from behind while walking through open land near Dellfield, Chesham.

Another assailant brandished a knife at the teenager who, according to the Examiner, was cut in the chest when he tried to avoid a lunge at his stomach and suffered deep cuts to his hand when he grabbed at the knife. His leg was gashed and he tore a ligament in his ankle.

According to his family, when he got home there was “blood everywhere”.

He was treated in hospital for his cuts. His father told the Examiner: “I was surprised there was no publicity – I wasn’t asked about getting the press involved.”

Fisher told Press Gazette: “I heard about the stabbing from a local contact after Christmas. I’ve been told there was no operational reason why the press had not been told. It seems to me that it was clearly in the public interest that people should know about a serious incident like this.

“Unfortunately, the way Thames Valley Police operate, they are not proactive in ensuring we have good access to the police on the ground; they like everything to go through their media conduit, ie, press officers.”

Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Annie Tysom said: “This is a serious crime and one for which we would usually issue a press statement. One was not issued in this instance and the reasons for this oversight are being examined.

“A thorough investigation is ongoing into the incident, which happened on 7 December. The details of the offence were issued to the Buckinghamshire Examiner in a formal statement and guidance off-the-record was given.

“Thames Valley Police has an open media policy and strives to maintain an informative relationship with the press.”

The Examiner last week splashed on the story and quoted a local councillor, Chris Spruytenburg, and Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan’s concerns that the incident had not been made public. The councillor said: “I am absolutely amazed – we have a serious assault involving a knife and residents nearby don’t even know it has happened.”

By Jon Slattery

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