The UK Telegraph reported on drug crime quadrupling in a village called Westhumble. But, the article actually reported on crime in the neighboring area not in the village itself, and the crime was mostly related to cannabis and not organized crime.
A reader and the local Surrey police complained to the newspaper letting them know, according to the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The Telegraph said the error and article, Aug. 2019’s “Rural drugs crime soars as gangs move away from cities,” were based on a BBC report. ” The article was corrected upon receiving this information from the police and amended from “in the village of Westhumble in Surrey” to “near the village of Westhumble in Surrey,” IPSO reported.
The Telegraph published the following correction:
“An article about ‘county lines’ drug gangs of 23 Aug, which reported a BBC analysis of police crime figures, wrongly stated that the number of drug crimes has risen from nine to 42 in the village of Westhumble, Surrey, in the last five years. In fact, these figures relate to the area around Westhumble, not in the village itself, and are primarily accounted for by offences of cannabis possession, not dealing, at a local beauty spot.”
The BBC also published a correction on its article. That correction reads:
“Correction 12 September 2019: This article originally referred to the village of Westhumble in Surrey, where figures show there’s been an increase in drugs offences in the past year. Surrey police subsequently confirmed these cases were related to drugs possession in the surrounding area and on the 13 August we updated our article to reflect that. We have now removed all references to Westhumble from the article entirely. The village is not a centre for county lines dealing and we accept it should not have featured in reports about how drugs gangs are moving away from cities and into less densely populated areas.“
iMediaEthics has written to the Telegraph and BBC.