In 2015 Archant formed its first Investigations Unit, tasked with providing more in-depth content for Archant's newspaper titles. Since then, the team have investigated hundreds of stories across the country – resulting in a number of positive outcomes.
One recent success followed a tip-off in about waste being left at an abandoned pub. This started investigations into ex Norwich police officer - Ben Staff. During the course of this investigation, the team uncovered thousands of pounds that Mr Staff owed to contractors and construction firms across Norfolk following problems with his building projects. At the start of 2017, Ben Staff was found guilty of frauds totalling £1m and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Archant’s Investigations Editor Tom Bristow, who led the investigation, said: “The Eastern Daily Press first published an investigation into Ben Staff in 2013 - so it’s rewarding to see justice finally done.
“Many of the victims we spoke to at the time were used in the police investigation and their lives and firms were severely impacted by Staff and his frauds.”
The most recent investigation by the Unit, published in January and February, was into conditions at hostels for homeless people in north London which exposed how councils are spending millions of pounds a year to keep homeless people homeless, rather than providing and building permanent accommodation.
Last year the unit also tracked down an international fraudster wanted in South Africa for alleged tax fraud who was found living in North London.
That work was recognised at Archant’s internal awards ceremony in January, where investigations reporter Emma Youle was presented with the ‘Archant Awards 2017 – Best Content of the Year’ award.
Tom Bristow said: “The stories we do are a mix of traditional investigative work and more data-driven stories which do well online. It’s great that Archant has this group of reporters who can step back from day-to-day news stories and focus on why things are happening as well as just what is happening. It helps keep our readers informed about what is really going on in the areas they live.
“Our plans for this year are to carry out some longer term investigations and campaigns and find ways to present them online which are more engaging.”
© Archant Ltd 2013