Working with the police and other universities

Staff at the Leicester Centre for Journalism have been sharing their expertise in the professional sphere.

David Penman has attended the Metropolitan Police Crime Academy in Hendon, North London, to work with police officers on the force’s Senior Investigating Officers development programme.

METWorking alongside a former newspaper colleague-turned police media expert, Matt Tapp, David offers delegates on the course an insight into how journalists would cover a major incident, and the impact that coverage might have on the investigation.

David said: “Matt is recognised as a leading authority on police media relations and has been a popular guest speaker at De Montfort on a number of occasions. Working with him at the Met enables me to keep up to date with the latest police media techniques which I can then share with our students.”

The senior ranking detectives’ task is to conduct a murder inquiry in real time, including dealing with bereaved relatives, the public and the media. The week-long exercise involves decision-making under pressure and using the media to help catch the culprit.

In addition to producing dummy front pages of newspapers in reaction to officers’ media releases, David also leads the questions at a ‘press conference’ and debriefs the officers on their performance.

Matt and David have also shared their expertise with The Dutch Police and officers from Norway who have come to London to experience the Met’s training programme.

Meanwhile John Dilley has been running a Teach the Teachers seminar for the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists).

John, who is the Chief Examiner for the Production Journalism exam, leads the workshop in sharing good teaching practice for lecturers from other accredited courses across the UK.

John said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to raise DMU’s profile and also to help other lecturers to help their students aspiring to become digital or print journalists.”


Sanitary protection, petitions and the period protest

By Grace Liu

What is Value Added Tax? Most young people probably rarely think about it. In short, it is the extra cost added to the price of a classified ‘luxury’ product and paid to the government whenever that product is purchased. What would you consider to be a luxury? Good food? Smart clothes?

Or how about the dignity of not bleeding uncontrollably all over your trousers?

Since 1973, women throughout the EU have been taxed for having to manage their periods, while men’s toiletries, jaffa cakes and exotic meats are untaxed, among many other items deemed ‘necessities’.

Yet menstruating homeless women are forced to bleed for all the world to see just because there is so little easy access to sanitary protection.

For me, it is one more example of women versus the world. Let me explain. In pop culture, past and present, media featuring women is for women, as if female based media is some special niche for a specific minority. You don’t hear of stories featuring ‘strong male characters’ because this area of the media is, more often than not, for everyone.

Now let me apply this concept to a more concrete situation. To put it bluntly, if an issue is female based – particularly if centered on body issues – it should not concern the rest of the world. In this case, it is understandable; periods are a sensitive subject, as well as an embarrassing issue to have to manage. But by increasing the cost of feminine products but not accessibility, it seems this view has been taken too far.

With this view in mind, two young menstruating women stood outside the House of Parliament without a single pad or tampon, following October’s tampon tax petition. The response was mixed; some people were fully supportive, while others told them to ‘get a job,’ or that the protest was ‘minging’ or that hygiene should be a top priority.

In my opinion this both proves and misses the point. Hygiene should be a top priority. Not a luxury. And in doing this protest, could these women have shed a light on periods among the homeless?

So far, the common view is that – like it or not – men, and therefore male politicians, are unaffected by the tampon tax, and have no reason to protest against it. But social media and recent reports have proven otherwise, despite the mixed opinions on this issue. Men and women alike have signed the petition and voiced their opinions online. A step in the right direction, but how long before it persuades the government?

Only time – and your votes – will tell.

Homeless but not helpless

IMG_3777By Harry Daynes, Natalia Bolechowska and Cherelle Cawthorn

Homelessness in Leicester has become a major issue in recent years; in November 2011 there was 53 rough sleepers, the highest figure outside of London.

There is a conflicting debate between Leicestershire Council and the homeless network as to how much support is available to the homeless.

One 37-year old man named Peter became homeless when his business went under, he was unable to repay his mortgage and faced repossession.

He said: “[Leicester council] keep closing the hostels in Leicestershire and the more hostels they close the harder it is for homeless people to get rooms. It’s not ideal but there’s not a lot you can do. You’ve just got to do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

Walking through the streets of Leicester it is clear that there is an issue regarding the number of homeless people.

However, included in Leicester city council’s principles of their homelessness service they claim that anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless will be given advice and support to prevent this, wherever possible.

Despite this principle, support is not always available for those with certain circumstances.

Peter said: “I’m waiting for a room to become available at The Dawn Centre but because I’ve got a dog, they’ve only got a selected amount of rooms with kennels as they’re full.

“My children know I’ve gone through a hard time but they don’t know the extent of it, I try and stay in Bed and Breakfasts’ when I can but obviously that depends on members of the public and how generous they are.”

Leicester council claim that their homeless service costs £4.49 million per year but more funding is always needed.

One of the many events that raise awareness and funds towards homeless charities, such as Action Homeless, is the DeMontfort University Sleep-out in which students sleep on the steps of their student union overnight to raise sponsorship.

Although the feeling amongst the homeless is that the council and the government are not doing enough, a city council spokesperson said: “We always offer support to people who come to us in need of accommodation. They would get a full assessment of need from us, so that we can help them not just with housing, but with other problems they may be experiencing.

“We often support people to return to their previous accommodation, if it is safe and practical for them to do so. We also help people to start their own tenancies, and we have 85 units offering specialist accommodation with additional support with education, employment or learning to live independently.

“Our aim is to prevent homelessness, but we do also have plans in place to help anyone who finds themselves without a home, so that no-one need sleep rough in the city.”

Angry villagers fight on against new housing

By Uzair Ghodawala

Angry villagers in Leicester are fuming over the decision to give planning permission to build 1500 new houses.

The proposal by Charnwood Borough Council, which was first made 11 years ago, affects the green fields separating Birstall from Rothley on the A46.

On Monday night the planning permission was accepted.

Simon Sansome, who started a petition against the plans in December 2014, said: “Local residents have been complaining for years about congestion and how bad the traffic has been.

“There would be traffic issues because there will not be any new roads built and with 1500 new houses it will only get worse.

“There isn’t a local community centre or leisure centre either so having 1500 new homes would congest the area further.”

The online petition against the proposal needs 500 signatures online and it has passed its halfway point.

Already 270 signatures have been made and another 500 were collected at a stall by hand in December, taking the total to 770 so far.

The petition is available on the website.

Solutions to social issues found thanks to university’s computer whizzkids

By Kerri Stevenson


A group of students on the second day of the Hackathon event.

Students from DMU and other universities across the country came together today to create innovative, technological solutions to common social problems using apps and software development.

DMU’s annual two-day Hackathon, brought together software designers and developers, charities and service providers to create solutions to issues such as housing, mental and physical health, assisted living and social care as well as other important problems present within the local community.

Dr Samad Ahmadi, of DS3, which supports students and researchers developing applications for organizations and charities and Vir.AL (Virtual Reality and Assisted Living, a research group), said: “This event has been very effective at bringing together students from different backgrounds and communities.”

During this event, a short-listed number of proposals from local charities, councils, hospitals and museums were discussed, of which one will be chosen to be implemented and developed after the event.

On the first day of the Hackathon, many interesting proposals were made regarding health and charities, which combine the collection of important data and research of issues relevant in society today.

There was also an opportunity for a ‘wild card’ proposal, which allowed students to be able to address other prevalent issues in society that may not have otherwise been addressed.

Dr Ahmadi said: “Two proposals stood out to me the most at yesterday’s event. One was for a project that involved collecting important data from skin cancer patients and uploading it anonymously online to use for research.

Students from all walks of life came together to provide solutions to common social issues.

Students from all walks of life came together to provide solutions to common social issues.

“The other was for a fundraising app that helps to raise money for the Charity Trust and local charities such as Forever Savvy, which provides outdoor learning programmes for adults with learning disabilities.”

The software developed during this event will be ‘open source’ in order to allow users and developers to study, change, improve and distribute the developed over the day.

Dr Ahmadi added: “We are hoping for students to produce working prototypes today, which will be proof of their concept.

“If successful, these prototypes will receive further funding to eventually be fully developed.”

If you have any questions about the event or the charities mentioned in this article, please contact Dr Ahmadi on 0116 250 6314 or alternatively, send an email to this address: