Letter from the Chief Constable to the Daily Post
Thursday 29 Jun 2017
Last weekend two people sadly died and two were badly injured in road traffic accidents in North Wales. This is desperately sad for the families and friends who knew them and my heartfelt sympathies go out to them.
Your front page headline in Monday’s paper – “Carnage on the roads” – appears particularly harsh with scant regard for the families concerned or for those whose job it is to help those involved in these tragic incidents.
I fully understand that the media have a right and a duty to report events, no matter how tragic, and that headlines are formulated to attract attention. The pressures on the modern media, declining sales in print and the need to provide click-bait driven content on the web have been well documented. But the often seemingly heartless, or at least thoughtless way in which the paper and website covers local news amounts to a great disservice to the North Wales public, your own reputation and, more importantly, the victims of tragedies and crimes who have enough to cope with without the local paper adding to their sorrows.
I would appeal to you to show more humanity and compassion in your coverage of such incidents.
Your reporting of weekend events also only gives part of the story. Alongside these tragic incidents police officers and staff were also out and about educating and enforcing on the roads. As a quick summary a 19 year old stopped on the A55 near Colwyn Bay on Sunday night for speeding also tested positive for cocaine; a 33 year old woman who drove through a road closure in Wrexham on Saturday night failed the breath test; a 63 year old man who left the scene of a non-injury accident on the A55 Bangor on Saturday afternoon was found and charged with drink driving; a 22 year old driver failed to stop in Wrexham on Friday afternoon and was later charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop, driving whilst disqualified and with no insurance.
Our dedicated patrols are working 24/7 to keep our roads safe and our summer safety campaign will continue with the sole aim of attempting to reduce the number of serious collisions.
Chief Constable Mark Polin
North Wales Police have received the below response from the Daily Post:
The Daily Post writes dozens of headlines every day and considers the way they are worded extremely carefully. Consideration always includes the effect headlines may have on the victims of accidents or crimes and their families.
Sadly, by any measure, last weekend was a tragic one on North Wales roads with two deaths, two people airlifted to hospital and other crash-related injuries. Our thoughts, as always, are with the casualties, their families and the emergency services dealing with the aftermath and the Daily Post, like the police, is consistent in its quest to promote and highlight road safety in the region.
The Daily Post always seeks to avoid adding to the distress of grieving families or anyone affected by accidents - and if we inadvertently do we are quick to rectify and apologise.
The use of the word 'carnage' to describe multiple accidents and deaths is common within the media and in this instance was definitely not published to offend or to sensationalise. It was a headline designed to encapsulate the magnitude of the weekend's tragic events.
The Daily Post would strongly refute any suggestion that we lack compassion or humanity. Indeed, the Daily Post has long supported the Ty Gobaith charity and other good causes and campaigned over many decades to improve the lives of people in North Wales.
We will not flinch from telling the news however we always strive to apply sensitivity when dealing with tragic events.
In addition, the Daily Post always welcomes valid criticism and we use that feedback to review the way we operate. We are a heavily regulated media and we abide by the rules not only because we have to - but because we want to.
Finally, the Daily Post frequently highlights North Wales Police's road safety initiatives and enforcement activity. Information relating to the 'other part of the weekend story' was not made available by the police until many hours after Monday's Daily Post had printed. Had it been available, the information would have been included in the publication.