The BBC did not 'doctor' a clip to push a false narrative concerning the police

By: Sam Doak
June 1 2023

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The BBC did not 'doctor' a clip to push a false narrative concerning the police


The Verdict False

The fact that the video was edited is clear in the version that the BBC aired. There is no evidence the broadcaster attempted to deceive viewers.

Claim ID bd990a54

On May 2023, two teenage boys were killed in a crash in Ely, Wales. In the days since, video footage has shown that the pair were closely followed by a police van shortly before their deaths, which critics have claimed could have been a contributing factor to the events that unfolded. Initially, police officials denied responsibility in this case, with the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner denying that the teenagers were chased. After the emergence of footage of events leading up to the crash, Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Bacon later clarified that the pair were followed by officers. 

As more information has come to light, some people have taken issue with the coverage that could be interpreted as suggesting police officers may have been at fault. Commenting on Facebook and Twitter, media personality Darren Grimes criticized a segment of video footage aired by the BBC, claiming “The BBC has doctored this clip to make it look like the cops were right behind the lads. This clip of the same footage shows that not to be the case. Yet the BBC has launched ‘BBC Verify’ to tackle ‘disinformation’. Those in glass houses and all that…” 

The video shared by Grimes is composed of footage aired by BBC News and Sky News. The clip taken from the BBC shows the teenagers cycling on a road, with the footage fading to show a police van driving in the same location. Sky News’ clip is a longer, unedited version of the same clip, which shows the boys cycling up the road, then moving out of frame. The police van is then seen seconds later. 

In Fact
There is no evidence the BBC “doctored” footage to falsely claim police were at fault in this incident. The video is edited, but this is obvious when viewed in the format aired by the BBC. The video shared by Grimes is a composite, showing two clips simultaneously. As such, both appear smaller than they would have when individually broadcast, making it more difficult to identify details. In the segment aired by the BBC, which is available through the Internet Archive, both the fading effect and a time stamp are more clearly visible. Both of these elements make it clear that the footage of the van was filmed around 16 seconds after the teenagers were in the position the vehicle fades into. 

Also absent from the version of the video being shared online is the commentary that accompanied this clip when it was aired by the BBC. The presenter states, “Piece by piece, CCTV we’ve gathered has shown were following the boys in the minutes before their death. The police van turns away here because bollards block the end of the road, and it was only a few hundred meters further that they died.” Given that the video shows that the van was approximately sixteen seconds behind the teenagers, this appears to be an accurate description of events. 

Subsequent footage has emerged that demonstrates that the teenage boys killed in Ely were closely followed by police prior to their deaths. An unedited video published by The Guardian time-stamped at 5.56 p.m., but “believed to be around 5 minutes slow,” shows a police van approximately one second behind the teenagers.

A possible explanation for why the BBC decided to edit the clip in question is that the entire segment covering this event only lasted around two and a half minutes. Within these time constraints, it is perhaps not unusual that the BBC would choose to show a clearly edited, shorter version of the clip in question. The video is approximately 15 seconds long and is around half the length of what was aired by Sky News.  

The Verdict
The fact that the clip was edited to only compress time would likely have been clear to viewers in the format aired by the BBC. There is no evidence that the broadcaster attempted to push a false narrative, and further video footage shows that the teenagers were closely followed by police prior to their deaths. This claim has therefore been marked false. 

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