Surrey Police Advert 'Irresponsible'

25 October 2017, 06:00

The advert has been banned

An advert for Surrey Police which featured the sound of a neighbour's baby crying has been banned for being socially irresponsible.

It was part of a campaign asking us to think twice before calling 999 - but the advertising watchdog says viewers wouldn't understand the message.

A baby or young child could be heard crying through a wall in the television ad, seen in August, with on-screen text showing the word 'noisy' written in blue alternated with 'abused' written in red.

The text continued: "Not all calls are policing matters. To report noisy neighbours, contact your council. When it is a policing matter Surrey Police will be there for you.

"Think twice. Is your call a policing matter?"

A viewer complained that the ad was irresponsible for its suggestion the public should make their own decision about whether police involvement was necessary.

Surrey Police said more than 10,000 of the calls they received and deployed to within a 12-month period were for matters that did not need police involvement.

Deputy Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: "We are naturally really disappointed by the decision.

"Surrey Police has made sustained efforts to increase both awareness of, and confidence to report child abuse.

"This particular campaign is centred around helping educate the public about what is and isn't a policing matter. Clearly child abuse is, whereas children just being noisy isn't."

NSPCC director of national services Peter Watt added: "Any advert, however well meaning, that might stop someone from picking up the phone could lead to dangerous or even fatal consequences."