On 5 July 2023 the North Yorkshire Police Communications Team issued a press release saying that Harrogate Police needed help in tackling a new drugs line into Harrogate. The press release featured Detective Chief Inspector Fiona McEwan.
For what was an apparent important news item, we approached the police comms team for interview time, to be able to expand the news item. We were told that only the BBC and ITV had been given interviews, and that was dictated by officers in Operation Expedite, the group working in this area.
As a local publisher, and a local news item, we requested interview time. The BBC and ITV were given ride-alongs, which wasn’t something we wanted, as legally they can be difficult, we just requested a face to face interview.
For this news North Yorkshire Police paid for video coverage with a local media business. Meaning North Yorkshire Police found time and money to do that.
Nearly a month later, this interview time has been pursued, but there is no willingness to undertake it with the Harrogate Informer.
Of course an interview is about providing opportunity to question what has been said, and that opportunity has not be allowed.
We have not run the original press release as there has been no engagement with North Yorkshire Police to be able to verify what they are claiming. For an organisation to avoid accountability is very concerning, and it represents North Yorkshire Police wanting to write the news on their terms.
It fair to say that it is difficult to conclude if it was a genuine news item from the Police or if it was just using PR to connect to the public to put their own messages for image management.
This has been raised with the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, and we are awaiting a response.