Ban for anti-terror ad

By staff

An anti-terror advert which suggested people who kept their curtains drawn could reasonably be suspected as terrorists has been banned.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the radio advert from the Association of Chief Police Officers, broadcast on Talksport, was capable of causing “serious offence”.

The brief advert outlined the behaviour of “the man at the end of the street” who “doesn’t talk to his neighbours much” and who “pays with cash because he doesn’t have a bank card”.

It concluded with the warning message: “If you suspect it, report it.”

Ten listeners who believed the ad encouraged people to report law-abiding citizens who acted in the way described in the ad, challenged it as offensive, the ASA said.

It concluded: “We considered that the ad could also describe the behaviour of a number of law-abiding people within a community and 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.

“We also considered that some listeners might be offended by the suggestion that they report members of their community for acting in the way described. We therefore concluded that the ad could cause serious offence.”

The Metropolitan police, speaking on behalf of Acpo, argued the aim of the adverts was to alert the public to behaviour. Taken together, these “may be construed as suspicious and might be an indication of terrorist activity”, it said.

It added the advert was based on trends identified by police among terrorists.

Further complaints by 16 listeners that the ad could encourage people to harass or victimise their neighbours, and by nine listeners who challenged whether the ad made an undue appeal to their fear, were not upheld, however.