BBC complaint get’s non-answer after one month
My complaint on 2nd March: Misreporting organised crime
The presenter said: ‘New figures reveal there are one hundred and twelve organised crime groups operating in Scotland but fewer than at any time in the past five years. A report by the Scottish Government’s Serious Organised Crime Task force says that although the number of gang members is down around 30%, the criminal groups are widening their scope. They’re not just dealing drugs they’re also targeting vulnerable bank customers.’
1. Nowhere does the report use these words nor does it suggest any ‘widening of scope’ in organised crime. There is nothing in the report to suggest that targeting vulnerable bank customers is a new and worrying trend.
2. The government press release headline ‘Around £13 million saved from fraudsters’ is used by STV and others. Why did you choose not to inform your audience?
BBC response on 3rd April:
Your comments were passed to the Editor, Reporting Scotland, who has asked that I forward her response as follows:
“Thank you for being in touch about the lunchtime edition on 2nd March.
You correctly quote the story as read and then say “Nowhere does the report use these words”. The report shows that the number of known serious organised groups has been going down over five years and now stands at 112. We said that.
The report also demonstrates that over the same five years the number of known persons involved in serious organised crime has gone down by about 30 per cent: the report may not use the percentage figure we used but we worked out from the data provided by Police Scotland. It is customary for journalists to present information in an easily digestible way which does not detract from the substance of the information provided.
You say “there is nothing in the report to suggest that targeting vulnerable bank customers is a new and worrying trend”. The word “worrying” is yours, not ours; and the fact that a multi-agency initiative was set up only two years ago to identify vulnerable victims being defrauded of funds from their bank accounts – apparently with considerable success – and was also singled out in the clip we used from the Justice Secretary, when he went out of his way to refer to the “more joined-up approach” exemplified by these moves, suggests either that the Scottish Government has belatedly woken up to a long-term trend or that they have been timeously proactive in dealing with the problem. The story appears to have tended to the latter interpretation.
Finally, we are not spoon-fed by press/news releases from any organisation. Other media may do what they want, but we are guided by such matters as the relevance, accuracy or meaningfulness of the information provided. These decisions are made day in, day out by journalists and I see nothing exceptionable in this story.
This kind of evasive answer reminds me why I tend not to bother.