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The Murder of Jo Yeates, The Media & MPs react.

I have dillied and dallied on whether or not I was going to write this blog but it looks like I am going to go through with it. The murder of Jo Yeates is without a doubt a horrific crime and needs to be treated as such. However the way the media are going on it seems as though this is the first murder of a person in the UK for a generation. I could deal with that without too much of a murmur but the reporting in the Sunday newspapers have tipped me over the edge of silence.

Now I know Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East has claimed on her twitter feed that she has been misquoted but she did say – and the quotes are direct – that (about DNA testing) ‘but rather than taking DNA just from men in the Clifton area, where the population is somewhat transient, the operation should be widened to include the whole of the city.’

First of all this is not a sex crime. Therefore it could have been a woman who murdered her and in any DNA testing plan the police would have to test both men and women. Secondly as far as I’m aware people are free to travel outside of their local area so the murderer may not be a local. The profile of this murder seems to suggest that this wasn’t an opportunist killing and was planned. If it was planned then someone could have driven in and out of the area to do what they did.

So mass DNA testing would have to cover everyone essentially. It opens up the question of personal information and whether or not people who are not accused of a crime should have their DNA taken. I know there is an opinion of ‘if you are innocent then you have nothing to worry about’ but I don’t buy that. I do not (to my knowledge) live in a police state and live in a liberal and free society. I’m not surprised Labour MPs have backed this plan.

Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South tweeted, ‘However the comments by @KerryMP might have been misreported, I hope the idea of DNA tests for every man in Bristol is acted upon.’ The police have not even said that they have any DNA from the body to match any sample against or whether any sample is male or female. He is just desperate for attention and has already decided that a male is to blame for the murder. He’d be a great policeman…Not. So basically two Labour MPs have jumped on the populist bandwagon and said that DNA testing can possibly save the day. DNA evidence is clearly an important part of any case but just let the police do their job.

That brings me on to my biggest bugbear. I have read across the media and on various internet forums that the police are not doing a very good job. Well what bullshit. The police are trained to investigate crimes and we have to just let them get on with it. The media should just let the police do their job and be there to help the police with media appeals etc… Being critical of an ongoing case when no-one in the media actually knows what is going on in Police HQ is flat-out dumb and pathetic. There was a reason the police told itvNews to get out of their Press Conferences – and that is because they were hindering the investigation.

So an open memo to the media. Solving the crime is the most important thing. Not giving opinions on the investigation and what might or might not have happened. I’m not a trained police officer and therefore I have no knowledge of how to investigate a crime. Nor do members of the media or MPs for that matter. Let the people who are trained do the job and keep your opinions to yourself if you are going to make comments that might harm the investigation.

My final point of this matter is that Jo Yeates was a 20-something blonde who was murdered and the media have jumped on board like it’s the worst crime ever. I ask myself whether the media would be all over the story had for example the murder victim had been a 35 year-old Pakistani woman or a 40 year-old bald man? Sometimes I feel that the media jump on to a crime because the person killed fits that ‘middle England’ sense of perfection.

For example see the Madeline McCann coverage. Perfect blonde girl with a smile and wearing a football top. Again a terrible crime may well have happened here but kids get abducted all the time and they never get this coverage. Early last year there were a series of knife crimes in London where young teenagers were stabbed and killed but those stories went away after 24-48h. This one isn’t and the difference is in the gender. As far as I can recall no teenage girls were stabbed and killed during that spell of violence, had there been would the media reporting have been different? I know I certainly think so.

I may just be a 20-something cynic but if I disappeared and turned up dead, my death would not be making headlines a fortnight later. There might be a Crimewatch reconstruction a few months later and it might make the news when my body was discovered but I suspect that would be it.

The media know how to make a story and this is a legit story that needs to be reported but so are other murders and missing people. The media should not be able to pick and choose which murders are most important but they do and sadly this is something we have to live with. Hopefully the police are allowed to get on with their job and find out who killed Jo Yeates and then the streets will be safer but for now we know nothing so let’s give the police the time and space to conduct their investigations.

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One Comment

  1. Nigel Kneale Nigel Kneale

    I agree with this, but have to admit I feel as though to raise questions over the level of coverage could be viewed as trivialising the crime. The fact is that when the coverage was at its peak, the front page of all the papers was given over to the story, with two or three pages inside the paper as well. Usually if you turned to page 20-30, there may be a paragra[h covering another murder elsewhere.

    The press have always been guilty of this sort of thing though. When the Yorkshire Ripper first started killing women he targetted mainly prostitutes, or women he believed were prostitutes. It was only after he killed a young student that th media started to place pressure on the police to catch him.

    I remember when Madeleine McCann went missing, I was working for a company in Halifax, One of the women in the office commented that “if it had been a family of scratters off Mixenden (scratters being a Halifax slang term for the sort of people seen on Shameless, Mixenden a rough estate in Halifax), no one would have cared”. She was absolutely right!

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