Pascal Gunsch

Factual or not?

Factual accounts do not give any opinions or feelings. They need to give evidence to support what they are saying. Factual accounts do not use judgement words, e.g. good, bad, shocking. They do not suggest opinions such as ‘I think’. They use clear language and avoid words such as ‘probably’, ‘perhaps’ etc.

Canal Rescue
A 9-year-old girl has saved a toddler from drowning in a canal in Oxfordshire. Sarah Levitt dived into the Oxford Canal after two-year-old Adam Barker fell from the bank while still strapped to his push chair. She managed to hold Adam up out of the water for about five minutes before a passer-by helped pull the pair to the bank. Police are now investigating whether a group of teenagers had caused the incident by pushing the buggy into the water. Sarah was taking Adam to feed the ducks on the canal, when three teenage boys rode by on their bikes. Sarah’s sister Helen who is seven years old, shouted for help and Michael Foreman, out walking with his dog, heard the calls and came to the children’s aid. A police spokesman said they were investigating the incident, which happened last Thursday near a busy canal-side pub. He said: “We are appealing for witnesses to come forward to try to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.” “The 9-year-old girl deserves praise for her actions and was amazingly brave.” Emergency services now want to give Sarah an award for her bravery.

Accounts that give opinions do not always use evidence. They tend to quote from what people ‘think’ or ‘believe’ may have happened. They often use exaggerated language, e.g. ‘terrifying’ and even mention things that ‘may’ be true but, at the time of writing are still unknown.

Incredible Canal Rescue
9-year-old girl bravely saves a terrified toddler from drowning. On Saturday night Sarah Levitt was pushing 2-year-old Adam Barker in his buggy along the Oxford canal. Suddenly 3 teenage boys rode by on their bikes, shouting and laughing loudly. Sarah had no time to move to one side and before she knew it, they had pushed the buggy, poor Adam still strapped inside, into the canal. In all probability this was a deliberate attempt to seriously hurt the young boy and police are said to be treating the incident as a possible criminal event. Sarah took no time to think; she simply dived straight in and managed to pick the buggy up just enough for Adam’s face to be above the water. Her sister Helen, only 7 years old herself, ran for help and managed to alert Michael Foreman, out walking with his dog. Michael was able to drag Sarah, Adam and buggy to the side and once Sarah was back on dry land, she and Michael had just enough strength to haul Adam out of the buggy and the water. The whole incident was terrifying for all concerned. Adam’s mother is said to be seriously traumatised by the whole event although deeply grateful to Sarah who she has known since Sarah herself was a young baby. Friends of the family say that doctors are, at this stage, unable to confirm that Adam has not suffered any long-term effects.

You have read two reports about this incident, now you must sort out the fact from the fiction and write your own police statement. Before you write your statement, you must gather all your facts. Make sure you complete the table below before you write it as a report.

Where did the incident take place?
a canal in Oxfordshire
Who did it involve?
Sarah Levitt (9)
Adam Barker (2, victim)
Helen Levitt (Sarah’s 7-year-old sister)
Michael Foreman (a passer-by)
3 teenage boys
What was the time?
Last Thursday
Who is the suspect and why?
3 teenage boys are suspected to have pushed the buggy and so Adam into the canal
What other important information have you found out?
‘We are appealing for witnesses to come forward to try to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.’
‘The 9-year-old girl deserves praise for her actions and was amazingly brave.’

Write up your police report (150 words) Make sure it’s inkeeping with the factual tone that is appropriate to this sort of writing.
Sarah Levitt, a 9-year-old girl, saved the two-year-old tottler Adam Barker from drowning in a canal in Oxfordshire. Last Thursday she was walking Adam near a busy canal-side pub and feeding the ducks, when, for an unknown reason, the buggy fell into the water. She dived after him and managed to keep him up for about five minutes, when passing-by Michael Foreman came to help. He was walking his dog when he suddenly heard the shouts of Sarah’s 7-year-old sister, Helen.
Local police is now investigating the cause of the incident. They suspect three teenage boys, which were seen biking along the canal near the spot where the incident took place. The police askes ‘witnesses to come forward to try to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.’
Emergency services want to reward Sarah for her bravery. ‘The 9-year-old girl deserves praise for her actions and was amazingly brave.’

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