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Christmas Care

December 8, 2012

I went to Swindon to film this story for Points West at Christmas 2012. The charity had been going for ages and said they saw many more people than were officially registered as homeless in Swindon. On reflection, I think the story would have been more powerful if we had also spoken to people who were on the streets to see if they thought the same. This was the first piece I filmed entirely myself. My piece begins at 1’58” into the bulletin.

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University of Local Knowledge

November 29, 2012

A belated blog post, but this was the first report I did for Points West, in November 2012. I looked at a project run by Knowle West Media Centre called the University of Local Knowledge. The idea was to get people from south Bristol to make short films about their lives and experiences, and to make those available on the web. I had no idea how popular keeping horses was in the middle of inner-city Bristol until I met the people who did it!

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Keeping in contact while in prison

April 30, 2012

I spoke to a man from Frome who had served three months in jail for a public order offence. I was interested in how he kept in contact with his family while he was inside. Partly, this was inspired by the TV show Prisoners Wives.

Here is the report I produced:

Here is a longer version of the interview with his wife:

And the Howard League for Penal Reform:

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IMPACT reoffending scheme

January 3, 2012

IMPACT Minister InterviewAvon and Somerset Police is the first in the country to use a method of dealing with prolific acquisitive criminals known as IMPACT. I describe it as being a carrot and stick approach. The stick is that the offenders are regularly drug tested and kept under much closer supervision by the police and probation service. The carrot is that they are given whatever help and advice they need to turn their lives around, whether that is rehab, housing advice, job help, psychiatry or whatever. It’s also been seen as controversial because of the sympathetic relationship that seems to develop between the police/probation officers and the offenders. Advocates say that is irrelevant because it works, and reduces crime. I set out to find the truth behind the scheme.

Here is a link to the BBC news story I wrote.

Here is my radio report:

Here is an interview with one of the offenders on the scheme:

The scheme is jointly managed by the probation service and the police. Here is a probation officer’s take on it.

We also asked a government minister what he thought of the scheme.

Channel 4’s Dispatches Programme has also covered this. Here’s a link to their film.

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Bridgwater Mind Cafe

December 1, 2011

I went to see the opening of a new cafe in Bridgwater aimed at raising money for, and supporting, people with mental health issues.

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Family Courts Investigation

November 10, 2011

I conducted a long investigation into the operation of the family courts. What I ended up focussing on was whether or not it was possible for the family courts to meet a target, suggested in a recent government report, that they should speed up the process.

On one hand, any observer can see that the faster a care case is resolved, the better that will be for the child and for the families involved. On the other, no-one wants decisions about a child’s future to be made quickly, if that means the decision is poor. I wanted to ask what balance should be struck?

Here is a report I produced for BBC Somerset:

Here is a longer version of an interview with a ‘Children’s Guardian’, a family court official appointed to represent the interests of the child in the court case.

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Avon and Somerset Assaults FOI

November 1, 2011

I discovered there is a big difference between the number of police officers in Avon and Somerset accused of assault and the number who are disciplined as a result.

This stemmed from a Freedom of Information request I submitted to Avon and Somerset police. I asked for a comparison between a) the number of complaints of assault received by A&S between 2007 and 2009 and b) the number of officers facing disciplinary action.

The resulting figures were that just over 1,200 officers had been named in around 600 complaints of assault during that time. However, of these, only yhree had faced verbal warnings, with none facing written warnings or criminal charges.

What I wanted to discover was: why? Two possible causes suggest themselves. The first is that accusations of assault against officers are routinely frivolous, or done out of a desire for revenge. The second, that accusations of assault are not taken seriously. I set out to ask whether either of these was the case, or whether there was another explanation.

Here is a link to a version of the story written for the BBC web site.

Here is the report I produced for radio:

Here is an interview I conducted with a woman who claimed she had been assaulted by an Avon and Somerset Officer:

Here is the response of the Police Federation: