Touring the country with Crimewatch Roadshow


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When I was offered a presenter's role on Crimewatch Roadshow I jumped at the chance because I believe it's public service broadcasting at its best.

Without the support our viewers give to our appeals for information in solving crimes, the programme just wouldn't work.

With Crimewatch Roadshow I'm touring the country, reporting from a different area every week for a month. We began with north west England and end in Gloucestershire and South Wales.

Rav Wilding and Miriam O'Reilly

As it is, Crimewatch Roadshow has been regularly getting audiences of 1.4 million per episode during this run - which is an astonishing number of people watching for 9.15 in the morning.

We constantly appeal for viewers to come forward with information and jog their memories with some very convincing and well-produced reconstructions.

We also feature CCTV of some pretty brazen thieves and, of course, the straightforward rogues gallery of wanted faces still gets great results.

In our first week on air we featured a report on a convicted rapist, Tolgay Istek, who was sentenced in his absence to eight years in jail at Liverpool Crown Court in 2007.

Not long after we showed Istek's photograph the police received a call from someone who went into a London cafe and spotted him.

The police were there in minutes and after four years on the run Tolgay Istek is now back behind bars.

Within four hours of our appeal in the show, he was being held in custody.

His victim agreed to be interviewed by me and it was a very moving experience. She had been petrified while he was still at large and his recapture came as an enormous relief to her.

She was even able to laugh during the interview and talk positively about her future.

Interviews like that have to be handled very carefully. I've had a lot of experience talking to people in distress, but I've been fortunate that people seem to trust me and open up without getting too upset.

Sadly, the common denominator for the people I meet is that they've been the victim of crime.

It might not be the headline-grabbing crime featured on the evening show, Crimewatch, but it is far more common and affects many more people, often with a devastating impact on their lives.

House burglaries, where maybe only a few pounds or a small amount of jewellery has been stolen, leave people feeling violated and vulnerable.

Some of the incidents are disturbing and serious; assaults that have left the victims too scared to leave the house; the apparently motiveless and repeated arson attacks that forced an elderly couple from their home and into hiding.

Miriam O'Reilly on Crimewatch Roadshow

We obviously work very closely with police forces up and down the country.

The crimes are cases which haven't had an arrest or conviction, so the police are really keen to get onto the show in the hope that our reconstructions throw up new leads for them to follow.

Truth be told, for many it's a highlight in their career. One officer told me you've never really made it in the police until you appear on Crimewatch.

I also think I've got the plum job on the show. Although Rav can keep warm and dry in the studio, nothing beats touring the country, going out into communities and meeting the people we hope to help.

I've been lucky enough to have a great crew to work with whose care and professionalism make the live outside broadcasts run smoothly, masking the hectic behind the scenes manoeuvring as we dash between locations.

I can honestly say it's been my most enjoyable experience working for the BBC - even with the 4.30 morning starts.

I'm regularly asked how I keep upbeat about human nature when I so often see real suffering as a result of crime.

But I honestly get inspiration from the people we feature.

Although many of them have been through a terrible time, the majority say they are not going to let the criminals win, they won't allow them to have a lasting impact on their lives.

Miriam O'Reilly is a presenter on Crimewatch Roadshow.

Crimewatch Roadshow is on at 9.15 on BBC One each weekday until Friday, 1 July.

If you have information about any of the appeals featured on the show, you can call 08000 468 999, email or text CW [space] 63399. See the Crimewatch Roadshow contact us page for further details.

You can also make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers, the independent charity on 0800 555 111.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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