Following the tragic events in Svalbard in 2011, British Schools Exploring Society (now British Exploring) appointed former High Court Judge Sir David Steel to carry out an independent inquiry into the polar bear attack on a group of young explorers (Chanzin Fire) on 5 August of that year.
Sir David completed the Chanzin Inquiry Report some time ago, and it was our intention to publish his findings as soon as possible. However, at the request of Horatio Chapple’s parents, we agreed to defer publication until the first day of the inquest into Horatio’s death.
With the inquest beginning in Salisbury today (July 7), the report has now been published on our website, and British Exploring Chairman Edward Watson has made the following statement:
“First and foremost, I would like to reiterate our deepest sympathy for Horatio’s family, our sorrow that such a tragedy occurred on one of our expeditions and our sincere regret at the death of a fine young man. Horatio epitomised everything a young explorer should be and will not be forgotten.
I also want to pay tribute to the leaders and young explorers of Chanzin Fire. As highlighted by Sir David Steel in his report, all members of the group demonstrated great courage in the face of an attack that started while the camp was asleep.
Regarding the recommendations in Sir David’s report, we have accepted and implemented them all. There were important lessons to be learned from this tragedy and, following a comprehensive strategic review (a process that began before the tragedy but in which Sir David’s report played an important part), we have made significant changes to the way the Society operates, including some that go beyond what Sir David recommended.
Amongst other things, we have drawn up a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) relating to protection against predatory and wild animals in Polar Regions. The SOP includes a mandatory bear watch in all camps (a stipulation which exceeds what is required by Norwegian law), and the use of a new alarm system, which British Exploring has helped develop.
Sir David has since confirmed that the issues raised in his report have been fully addressed and has commended the Society for putting in place a revised structure and operating manual ‘of the highest quality’.
We hope and believe that Sir David’s report and the steps taken by the Society in response to it will be of considerable benefit to anyone organising or taking part in expeditions to Polar Regions in the future.”
Please find reports below;