Watchdog bans Home Office’s “Go home” adverts

The advertising watchdog has banned a Home Office ad campaign that was telling irregular immigrants to “go home or face arrest”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the ad was misleading.

A poster for the Home Office was displayed on the side of vans driven through six London boroughs, between 22nd and 28th July 2013.

The poster featured texts such as "In the UK illegally?";  "106 arrests last week in your area";  "go home or face arrest”; etc.

The ASA received 224 complaints, including from groups which represented migrants in the UK, legal academics and the Labour peer Lord Lipsey.

Most of the complainants challenged whether the poster, and in particular the phrase "GO HOME", was offensive and distressing, because it was reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past.

They also challenged whether the poster was irresponsible and harmful, because it could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in multicultural communities.

The ASA ruled that the reference to the number of arrests was misleading because it did not relate to those detained in the specific areas where people would have seen the vans.

“The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the Home Office to ensure that in future they held adequate substantiation for their advertising claims and that qualifications were presented clearly,” the ASA said in its report.

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