‘Offensive’ UK ad encouraging people to report ‘terror suspect’ neighbours banned

August 11th, 2010 - 4:09 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug 11 (ANI): The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Britain’s advertising watchdog, has banned a police advertisement on radio encouraging people to report neighbours they suspect as being terrorists, saying it could cause “serious offence” to law-abiding citizens.

“We considered that some listeners, who might identify with the behaviours referred to in the ad, could find the implication that their behaviour was suspicious, offensive. Some listeners might be offended by the suggestion that they report members of their community for acting in the way described,” The BBC quoted ASA as saying.

“We therefore concluded that the ad could cause serious offence,” it added.

The anti-terrorist hotline ad lists “suspicious” behaviour to look out for from quiet neighbours as paying by cash and keeping curtains drawn.

“This may mean nothing but together it could all add up to you having suspicions. The man at the end of the street doesn’t talk to his neighbours much, because he likes to keep himself to himself,” the radio ad stated.

“He pays with cash because he doesn’t have a bank card, and he keeps his curtains closed because his house is on a bus route. If you suspect it, report it,” it suggested.

About 18 listeners who heard the advert on Talksport, complained to the watchdog with ten of them saying it could be offensive to law-abiding citizens, while the rest said it could encourage people to harass or victimise their neighbours and was appealing to people’s fear.

The campaign by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) was aimed at promoting the confidential anti-terrorist hotline.

The Metropolitan Police, speaking on Acpo’s behalf, said that the ad addressed the issue of terrorists living within communities “and sometimes what appeared to be an insignificant behaviour could potentially be linked to terrorist activities”. (ANI)

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