Sandra Laville at the Leveson inquiry

Sandra Laville says her "mutually beneficial relationship" with the police is "in the public interest"

The Guardian's crime correspondent Sandra Laville told the Leveson inquiry today that she felt there has been an "over-reaction" by police in response to the inquiry, and that previously "open lines of communication" are being "closed down".

In evidence to the inquiry Laville said the changes she has experienced in communicating with the Metropolitan Police "affects everything I do at the moment".

"I perceive it as an overreaction because what is already happening is open lines of communication that have been there for many years are being closed down.

"I have relationships with officers that the press officer is trying to stop me talking to now. No decisions have been made but this is happening already."

When asked to elaborate she said she had recently approached a senior ranking officer known to her "for many years" to ask him about "a subject he knew very well".

"He was quite happy to talk to me but said I had to ask the press officer and she then refused me access to the officer. He said 'sorry, that's the way it is now'."

This has "absolutely not" happened before, she said.

The crime journalist added that there needs to be an "understanding that for years we've had a mutually beneficial relationship and that is in the public interest. It's lasted for a long time because it actually works."

She added this is "of course not without difficulties" but this is only in the case of a minority.

Laville called on the police service to "open up and allow officers to communicate freely", as according to the law.

She later added that as well as training of journalists, "police officers need better media training".

"I think they need training about ethics, their role in a democracy, the fact that you can't have unnecessary secrecy and things you can say", and not just a focus on what they cannot say.

"On both sides we need to understand each others' worlds a little more."

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