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October 9, 2018updated 06 Oct 2022 7:51am

Police force tells reporters to check social media for updates as it stops sending out press releases

By James Walker

Gwent Police has told journalists to check its social media channels as it will no longer be sending out press releases to the media.

In an email, seen by Press Gazette, the force said it would be posting all updates on Facebook and Twitter in future.

Any announcements or updates posted out of hours will only be available on Gwent Police’s corporate Facebook page, the force said.

It clarified that journalists would still be able to make enquiries over-the-phone or by email as normal – despite the change in press release policy.

The move has irritated some local journalists, including Caerphilly Observer editor Richard Gurner, who said: “This is a backwards step for Gwent Police in terms of media relations.

“Email is the primary communications channel for many news organisations and not sending out appeals through this method could lead to items being missed by busy journalists.

“Gwent Police is also often inconsistent with its messaging. For example, a recent appeal that was posted on Facebook wasn’t published on the force’s website. This needs to be addressed first for this new system to work.

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“The point of a crime appeal is to reach the widest possible audience, so this move is counter-intuitive and counter-productive.”

In a media briefing document released alongside the announcement, Gwent Police provided guidance on the role of “force incident managers” and “force control room supervisors” taking media calls outside of opening hours.

It clarified: “Hundreds of calls are taken and logged by the force every day, there is always something going on across the force area.

“The FIMs/FCRSs will be able to give you information on incidents they have been asked, by an investigating officer, to publicise/issue information on.”

The Gwent Police Facebook and Twitter pages appear to be updated regularly during office hours.

A Gwent Police spokesperson said: “We are committed to continuing to provide a reliable, responsive service to all media outlets. 

“The approach we are introducing is consistent with that already successfully adopted by many other police forces.”

Gwent is not the only police force to have stopped sending out press releases through email distribution lists.

Nottinghamshire Police stopped doing so years ago, opting instead to send out alerts on its website and social media platforms.

In 2016, staff shortages led to the Gloucestershire Police press office refusing to answer phones for a week – asking reporters to email instead.

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