Britain bans police anti-terror advert

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A radio advertisement for an anti-terror hotline which urged Britons to report "suspicious" behaviour by their neighbours such as keeping curtains closed was banned Wednesday.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) warned that the advert, by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), "could cause serious offence" after it attracted 18 complaints.

The advert, which aired on a nation-wide radio station, said: "The man at the end of the street doesn't talk to his neighbours much, because he likes to keep himself to himself.

"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."

It added: "This may mean nothing, but together it could all add up to you having suspicions. We all have a role to play in combatting terrorism. If you see anything suspicious, call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline".

The ASA ruled that it must not be shown again in its current form.

"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," it said.

"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."

ACPO apologised "to the small number of people who were offended by the advert" but said it had been "based on trends identified by police".

© 2010 AFP

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