In the UK over the last three nights there has been a drama screened on ITV called The Pembrokeshire Murders — it tells the true story of a police detective’s mission to catch a killer of four people and that man, real name Steve Wilkins, was played by the movie star and actor Luke Evans.
Why has this touched a chord with me? Two main reasons. One is that the story also features a journalist, Jonathan Hill, who is known to me professionally and who have worked with at ITV Wales. He co-wrote the book with Steve Wilkins and was involved in this production. For me and anyone who knows Jonathan personally that’s exciting. The second was this was a superb piece of drama, which was mindful and respectful of the victims of this individual, it told a story based on truth, and it reflected the fact that when the police and journalists trust each other — and work together — they can actually change lives. They can make a difference when it comes to crime because they both have powerful tools at their disposal.
Any journalist who has had a crime reporting role as I have in the past will know how important those relationships are — and you wreck them at your peril. This is a balancing act between the need to tell a great story and the need ‘not’ to tell a great story until the right time. In any kind of investigative journalism, timing can be everything in getting the right story out at the right time for the good of all concerned. We can all get this wrong and we do. However when we get it right, friendships with police officers involved in particular cases can last a life-time.
I’ve been life long friends with two police officers who were involved in very serious cases where we shared information with absolute honesty, trusting each other around what should be private, what should be public and when it should be public. In doing this and trusting each other implicitly stories were told which revealed evil and crime (which thrives in darkness) and which gave justice and hope to at least one victim. In fact, I was one of a production team who won a national award for one of these programmes in the mid 1990s — this centred around a rape.
I’m not going to talk about the ins and outs of The Pembrokeshire Murders because I was not involved…