Terrible loss of a young life

First published in Devizes Watch The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Photograph of the Author by

The death of 11-year-old Sam Odell, who died after being hit by a van outside Sheldon School, in Chippenham is the sort of terrible tragedy that helps to put life into perspective.
In this job we hear about a huge variety of events every day. Some are funny, some sad, some serious and some ludicrous.
But the death of a child hits everyone hard and the comments left on our website in tribute to Sam have been very moving.
This story though also highlights the rediculous situation happening at the moment within Wiltshire police.
When a story like this breaks papers depend on the police force to keep them informed and to make sure information is correct. Press liason is essential as vital witnesses are needed to this accident. There has been a huge outcry about road safety and is important the full facts are found out.
But at the moment Wiltshire police's press office at headquarters in Devizes is at breaking point. One member of staff was suspended and two are off sick. This just leaves the newly appointed head of the press office to cope on his own.
He has now decided he can't and told newspapers, radio and tv not ring him but to go to officers in the divisions.
They of course think their job is fighting crime rather than dealing with the press. In Devizes at the weekend though there could be no claim they weren't taking calls seriously when a whole fleet of police cars turned up to deal with one 17-year-old girl who had rather too much to drink and was threatening to attack the landlord of The Bell pub with her white stiletto - as I say a week in a newspaper office sees all types of stories!


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