Anti-begging posters banned for unfair treatment of ‘vulnerable’ homeless

Anti-begging posters put up by Nottingham City Council © Press Association
Anti-begging posters put up by Nottingham City Council, which implied all homeless people are criminals and frauds, have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The posters featured messages such as “Begging: Watch your money go to a fraud” and “Beggars aren’t what they seem.

Critics said the posters were offensive because they implied all homeless people are involved in criminal activity.

Nottingham City Council ran a series of five posters over the summer in a bid to persuade people to stop giving money to beggars.

One poster featured a close-up of a person smoking a roll-up cigarette with the text: “Begging: Watch your Money go up in smoke” and “Begging funds the misuse of drugs.

Another featured a crumpled can of beer and the text: “Begging: Watch your money go down the drain” and “Begging funds the misuse of alcohol.”

Seven people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming the posters portrayed homeless people in a derogatory manner.

The ASA said four of the five ads portrayed beggars as “disingenuous and undeserving individuals.

We further considered the ads reinforced negative stereotypes of a group of individuals, most of whom were likely to be considered as vulnerable [and] who faced a multitude of issues and required specialist support,” said the ASA.

On that basis we concluded [four of the ads] were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Nottingham City Council said its campaign was not anti-homeless but designed to discourage members of the public from giving money to beggars.

It insisted that giving money to beggars is likely to fund alcohol addiction and drug abuse, and people wanting to help “genuine” homeless people should donate to charities instead.

Government figures published on Wednesday show there has been a record 10-percent rise in homelessness in the last year, as 15,170 households were forced onto the streets.

Homelessness charity Crisis said the termination of private tenancy was the leading cause of homelessness in the UK.

We need a change in the law to prevent more people from losing their home and to make sure all homeless people can get help when they need it, while councils need the funding to make this work,” said Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes.