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Police v Press - a balanced fight?

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Nick - Web Team Nick - Web Team | 09:07 UK time, Wednesday, 20 September 2006

The war of words between the local media and North Wales Police continues today with the Daily Post striking the latest blow. In today's newspaper they show how they used the Freedom of Information Act to glean that the police had not disclosed more than 1,500 incidents over a single weekend to the Press and, therefore, the local community, including a sex attack and a suspicious death.

Yesterday, Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom used his blog to take issue with the BBC's approach to 'balanced journalism' on BBC Radio 2, specifically regarding a recent interview he did on The Jeremy Vine Show about new needle exchange dispensers. Mr Brunstrom labelled the interview an "on-air ambush", claiming the show used "‘antis’ to ask me questions on air in order to create controversy".

The Chief says in his blog: "The problem is two-fold, I think. Firstly the media’s naive and simplistic wish to provide 'balance' which leads to equal airtime for flat-earthers on any topic you care to name, despite the weight of evidence. Secondly, they crave sensationalism and controversy for its own sake."

Do you agree with him?

Last week it was the Daily Post editor Rob Irvine who used good old newspaper headline puns [ Who's been needling the chief?] in his blog about the same story.

Quoting the Editor's blog he explains: "Oh dear, we’ve gone and done it again…upsetting Mr Brunstrom. Our splash is about North Wales Police’s plan for an automatic needle dispensing facility next to Colwyn Bay nick so that people who misuse drugs can safely dispose of needles and get clean new ones. Apparently making such information public isn’t helpful. The Chief Constable says he did not publicise the planning application in order not to sensationalise the matter."

It's never going to be an easy relationship between the Press and the police, is it?

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