An Advertising Standards Authority decision that a poster campaign on the issue of begging breached its code has been criticised by the Leader of Nottingham City Council.
The Council is considering making a formal request for the decision to be independently reviewed.
Councillor Jon Collins said the ASA had “completely failed to understand the seriousness of the begging problem in cities like Nottingham and why this kind of campaign was needed.”
He said: “Begging harms those who do it because it provides a ready supply of cash to be spent on life-threatening addictions. Also, local people have clearly told us that begging is their number one anti-social behaviour concern in the city centre.
“The ASA has made a decision based on just seven complaints from people who thought the campaign targeted homeless people. It wasn’t about homelessness and made no reference to it. As the Framework housing charity has pointed out, begging shouldn’t be confused with homelessness or rough sleeping. Most people who beg aren’t sleeping rough and most people sleeping rough don’t beg.
“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. The ASA itself states that because something might be offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code but they don’t seem to have applied this to their decision about this campaign.
“I know there were people who disagreed with the campaign and I welcome the chance to have a proper debate about the issues it raises. But there were also plenty of people who agreed with the campaign and what it was trying to achieve.”
The two formal responses made by the City Council to the ASA can be viewed below.
Read a blog by Framework’s street outreach team talking about the campaign.
Links to media coverage about begging and other publicity campaigns
Begging has been an ongoing concern in Nottingham and nationally many other parts of the country, as highlighted by the following links to local and national media coverage.