Real pain lies behind the fiction of true-crime dramas | Samira Ahmed

Writers should be wary of fictionalising violent crimes. More compassion needs to be shown to those left in their wake

Though I’m better known as an arts journalist, for most of my career I’ve been a crime reporter. I’ve covered headline-making cases, from the serial killer Levi Bellfield – the subject of ITV’s recent drama Manhunt – to that of Shannon Matthews, whose abduction was the subject of the BBC drama The Moorside. I’m proud of the careful, responsible reporting of those cases by journalists, and am always inspired by the diligent work of police, lawyers and jurors in public courtrooms all over the country.

Related: Did we really need a film about the James Bulger murder? | Gaby Hinsliff

Some writers give oddly defensive justifications, showing a lack of empathy for those with real memories of the crimes

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