I don't often use this blog to promote my current day-time interest HoldtheFrontPage but this story which we ran today courtesy of the Oxford Mail really touched a nerve with me, as well as raising a wider political question.
I too was one of that generation of local newspaper reporters who would spend literally hours each week talking to local police sergeants and inspectors on the phone or sometimes even in person as they reeled off scores of local misdemeanours for use in the paper.
Since the "professionalisation" of police press offices began in the mid-90s, that source of information has dried up, with the Mail's investigation revealing that just 22 out of more than 6,000 reported crimes during July were being passed on to reporters.
At first, I assumed this was sheer laziness on the part of police PROs who thought they had bigger fish to fry. In fact it seems it's part of a deliberate police spin operation to reduce the fear of crime by not telling the public it is happening.
This of course has wider political implications. If all the crime that takes place in any local area was reported in the local paper, as it used to be, would not the government be coming under greater pressure to do something about it than is currently the case?
It's probably beyond the scope of the Oxford Mail's investigation, but it does beg the question whether in this case the police were acting on their own initiative, or whether they were themselves under pressure to reduce the fear of crime for political reasons.