My academic articles

Colbran, M. (2013) “Watching The Cops: a case study of production processes on television drama, The Bill” ECAN Bulletin 18:13-18

This article examines the process of storytelling on television police drama, The Bill. The study argues that, in the early days of the show, stories originated with the freelance writers and were based on research and observation of police work. Representation of the police was favourable, partly due to the ideological views of the makers and partly due to the format: stories had to be resolved within a half-hour timeslot, which militated against writers being able to tell stories about issues such as racism, sexism and corruption. However, due to changing market forces in the television industry, the show reinvented itself as a serial in 2001. Stories were now originated by an in-house team and based on other media sources such as tabloid news stories or other edgier shows. Storylines became inaccurate and controversial. The study concludes that whether the police are depicted favourably or unfavourably is determined as much by the need to attract a certain audience demographic and restrictions in the format as by any ideological intent on the part of the programme-makers.

Colbran, M.P. (2017) “Leveson five years on: the effect of the Leveson and Filkin Reports on relations between the Metropolitan Police and the national news media”, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 57, Issue 6, pages 1502–1519

This paper re-examines certain previous conclusions from the classic literature on police/media relations in the United Kingdom in the wake of the Filkin and Leveson Reports. The paper draws on interviews with senior Metropolitan Police officers, press officers and national crime journalists and argues that previous conclusions about asymmetrical relations favouring the police are partially problematic, with the media being in possession of key resources that often give them the upper hand. The paper also explores the role of new media in crime reporting and exposing police misconduct and suggests a new transfiguration may be emerging in police/media relations, allowing the media partially to bypass police sources.

Colbran, M.P. (2020) “Policing, social media and the new media landscape: can the police and the traditional media ever successfully bypass each other?”, Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 295-309

This study explores three issues. Firstly, it examines the effect of the use of digital platforms on the relationship between the police, the press and the public, in the context of restricted police/press contact in the United Kingdom. Secondly, it considers the question, raised in an Australian context (Lee and McGovern, 2014), as to whether the use of digital platforms allows the police, or more specifically in this study, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), to bypass the national British news media. Lastly, it identifies convergences and divergences with Lee and McGovern’s study of police and press relations. Lee and McGovern’s study indicates that, while the use of digital platforms has increased police control over flow of information, there is still a symbiotic police/press relationship. This study finds that, while the use of digital platforms has appeared to increase police transparency, the reverse is the case, and that the use of digital platforms has given the MPS more control than ever before over the flow of information to the press. The study suggests that these developments have serious consequences for the integrity of crime reporting and for democratic practices in the United Kingdom.

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My research – an overview

Crime and Investigative Reporting in the UK

Media Representations of Police and Crime: Shaping the Police Television Drama

Policing and The Media

My academic articles

Book chapters in edited collections

My non-academic articles

Theatre and Television Work – writing, acting and researching

News and events