Nottingham anti-begging posters banned by advertising authority

An anti-begging poster which says "Begging: Watch your money go up in smoke"
Image caption Four of Nottingham City Council's five posters have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority

Anti-begging posters published by a council have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for "reinforcing negative stereotypes".

Nottingham City Council came under fire for the posters, which said money given to beggars would be used on drugs, alcohol or fraud.

The ASA said they were likely to cause offence and "portrayed all beggars as disingenuous".

The council said it might appeal against the decision.

More than 2,000 people signed a petition criticising the council for "vilifying" the homeless with the messages "begging: watch your money go to a fraud" and "watch your money go up in smoke".

Image caption The council changed its wording on a second wave of posters, but one of those was also banned

The council reworded the posters for a second phase of the campaign, but one of these was banned.

The ASA investigated after seven people complained the posters portrayed homeless people in a derogatory manner and implied that all homeless people were engaged in criminal and anti-social behaviour.

The authority said the language used in the adverts "portrayed all beggars as disingenuous and undeserving individuals that would use direct donations for irresponsible means".

'Serious message'

It added: "We further considered the ads reinforced negative stereotypes of a group of individuals, most of whom were likely to be considered as vulnerable, who faced a multitude of issues and required specialist support."

The council said the posters were not about homeless people and claimed most people who beg do not sleep on the streets.

Councillor Jon Collins, leader of the Labour run authority, said he was considering calling for a review of the decision.

He said: "The posters needed to be hard-hitting to get such a serious message across effectively. There's no point in running a campaign that no-one is going to take notice of."

In 2004, the council was told to withdraw similar posters because there was not enough evidence to back up its claims.

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