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Complainant Name:
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Liverpool Daily Post (Welsh Edition)

Complaint:

Mr Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, complained to the Press Complaints Commission under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice about an article which reported claims that cuts to full time firefighters and a shortage of retained staff had left fire stations unable to respond to emergency calls. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had published false claims from anonymous individuals without taking proper steps to check the information beforehand.

Resolution:

The matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following apology, as well as a meeting between the parties to discuss an improvement in their working relationship.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service

On Saturday, December 1, we reported claims by three firefighters that reductions in the number of full-time and part-time frontline personnel had left fire stations in North Wales without adequate cover on occasions.

The articles on page one and on two inside pages included a statement from Ruth Simmons, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, in which she said that they had continued to respond promptly to incidents and the claims about staffing levels were not accurate.

However, a more detailed response in which the fire and rescue service dealt specifically with each point made was omitted, although it was published in the Daily Post of Monday, December 3 and immediately on our website.

We regret the omission and the fact that we did not make appropriate amendments to the December 1 reports ahead of publication as a result of the fire and rescue service's strong rebuttal.

In particular, contrary to what was implied our articles, we wish to emphasise that the specialist water unit at Betws-y-Coed was deployed during the St Asaph floods in November.

In addition, the fire and rescue service assures us that in no circumstances are firefighting gloves put back into use when they are unserviceable or unsafe, as was claimed in the articles.

We accept unreservedly that assurance and apologise for any embarrassment caused, and for not making clear that the front page headline was a claim and not an established fact."

Date Published: 10/04/2013



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