ACP Frances Henry Cautions Media

ACP Frances Henry pleaded with local media to be cautious when reporting matters under investigation.

In last Wednesday’s STAR we reported that ACP Frances Henry had been admonishing and cautioning the media about the manner in which they reported crime cases particularly those under investigation. She cautioned that there was need to do so without hampering the work of the police. We also sighted a seemingly growing trend of cordiality and openness between Henry and her press officer Innocent on the one hand and the media on the other. However that same story alluded to one media house hastily reporting that persons had been charged in a Forestierre homicide case, without the sanctioning of the information by the police. That story reportedly infuriated Henry. “ACP Henry may not speak to you today, because she is pretty much upset about the story carried on (media house named) last night,” officer Innocent said on Wednesday when the STAR sought a comment. Try we did, but getting through to Henry proved futile. On Thursday last week a follow up call to the police press officer promised a press conference the following day. The conference was held, albeit late Friday afternoon, much too late for our Weekend STAR. At Friday’s press brief ACP Frances Henry came out with blazing guns. Her target, not low life criminals, but the local media. But she had a caveat; she was not about to tell the media how to do their job, nor would she speak on ethics which according to her was an individual call. Her pointers; that information be credible and accurate and that there was a lack of investigative journalism here. Minus her usual jovial openings at such press briefings, ACP Henry started her press brief Friday this way; “I have asked repeatedly when stories are going to be aired and it is going to say according to police reports, I will start to embarrass people, I will start to embarrass by disassociating the police department from you’ll stories!” This, according to Henry against the backdrop of the Forestierre matter. “Individuals were in our custody. It is discourteous and I think it was an indictment on a particular media house that even before I, who conducted the investigations had the opportunity to inform their family that somebody was arrested that it was on the news,” Henry said in a firm voice. “And you know what was really wrong about it, one of the accused in this matter happens to have been a relative of the deceased and when you think of this, a family having been cut on both sides a victim and an accused. So you see how devastating this could have been, the implications of recklessness and I was specific and I said we should not,” Henry said, at times upset to the point of incongruence. “Trust me, if and when I am ever called to say exactly what I have been saying to you I will say it in another forum and another place,” she threatened subtly. “We only get it right when it is us. When it hits us we get it right and until your families become the victims of exactly what you do to other people we would not understand it,” she continued. “I am soliciting you, I am begging, I am pleading with you to allow the police to do what we have to do. I understand the eagerness of being the first to report, but being the first who reports inaccurate information is as if you did nothing,” she cautioned. ACP Frances Henry went on to say that she was now at a point where she was considering an exclusive club, which drew a few chuckles from those in the room. “Yeah I say that, an exclusive club that I may decide to choose because I expect accuracy in reporting. You have a responsibility not to the police department not to Frances Henry but let’s look at the bigger picture,” she stated. “Your credibility as an entity is very important, I am trusting we don’t have to go through this again,” she warned. According to the crime chief there are specific police matters that herself and the commissioner alone deal with. She pointed out that her telephone number was available to all reporters, but asked that it be used discretely. On Friday, Henry also touched on the whole issue of social media, which she says has its place if used for the right reasons. According to her, it is embraced by the police as an intelligence tool. “We learn a lot from it. We have a lot of perpetrators who actually gloat about their crime on social media,” she remarked. Henry felt it was destructive when the intent of publications was to demean persons or create scandal. “When info that is inaccurate is disseminated, it leaves room for chaos,” she said adding that social media had its positives and negatives. Friday’s press brief by the police confirmed that two individuals were charged last week in the Forestierre matter of September 7, 2012. Leonard Daniel 32 of Forestierre and Junior Charlemagne 19, originally of Soufriere are the two men charged. A post mortem revealed that the victim died as a result of manual strangulation. There were no signs of sexual assault. In the case of the shooting death of Fabian Joseph of Morn Du Don who was killed on the compound of G4S security firm in Choc, the DPP has directed that the matter be submitted to the coroner for an inquest. The matter of taxi driver Victor Mortley whose death a post mortem revealed was as a result of cardiac trauma secondary to gunshot wounds has landed four men in police custody. In the final matter, which brought about much media speculation last week involving a 21-year-old missing woman, the police reported that she was safe. Little was said other than “an investigation is progressing into the matter.”

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