By Sarah Lagan The Newbury Weekly News has used the new Crown Prosecution Service protocol to publish the photo of a 16-year-old dangerous driver on its front page. The paper now hopes the protocol will lead to it being able to stream CCTV film of convicted criminals regularly on its website, www.newburytoday.co.uk.
The protocol was agreed between the CPS, the Association of Chief Police Officers and media representatives. It was launched at the Society of Editor’s conference in October with the aim of promoting openness and giving the media greater access to prosecution material used in criminal trials.
The CPS believes co-operation with the media helps the public’s understanding of the criminal justice system.
The Newspaper Society’s current weekly paid-for newspaper of the year, persuaded Thames Valley Police to supply a photograph of a 16-year-old joy rider.
A judge at West Berkshire Youth Court sitting in Newbury heard how teenager Steven Anthony Barham led the police on a high-speed 80mph chase before ramming a police car.
Chief reporter of the independent paper John Garvey had to get a Section 49 automatic reporting restriction lifted so he could name the boy, and with the help of Acpo, the CPS and the SoE, persuaded the court to allow him to publish the picture.
Garvey said: "I felt this was a case where we should make a stand. We were originally told we could not publish the photo, but with a bit of persistence and help from the Society of Editors and Acpo we had an 11th-hour u-turn."
SoE executive director Bob Satchwell said: "There are sometimes differences of opinion and clashes, but when people from the police and the CPS start talking to the media it’s amazing what positive achievements can be made — and certainly the protocol was a terrific achievement.
"The advantages to the media are obvious, but so are the advantages to the police and the CPS in terms of the feedback that they get from the public."
The protocol is to be reviewed in the spring. Satchwell added: "We want editors and journalists to let us know what’s been good and bad about the working of the protocol."
The protocol states that prosecution material that has been relied upon by the Crown in court and which should normally be released to the media can include photographs of convicted criminals, police videos showing scenes of crime and CCTV footage of defendants and victims shown in court.
■ In April last year the Liverpool Echo increased its web traffic by more than a quarter (5,169 hits) in the 12 hours it streamed CCTV footage of a yob attack. Readers were directed to look at the paper for more details and encouraged to contact Crimewatch with any information.