In 2014, our Totally Pointless designs went viral after anonymous members of the Special Patrol Group (SPG) – a shadowy art-activism organisation – put them up in bus stop advertising spaces around London. Unfortunately, the Met haven’t stopped wasting public money on their own propaganda posters: earlier this year they had another crack at it, meaning they’ve now spent nearly a million pounds in just four weeks:
“The first of these two campaigns saw posters displayed for two weeks between 25th August and 2nd September 2014 in 15 boroughs. The most recent campaign ran between 2nd February and 15th March 2015 in 14 boroughs.
In total the campaigns cost £989,275, including media and production costs, direct mail and social media, and independent evaluation. 240 different messages were created.”
It’s not just the vast quantities of public cash spent on the posters that’s the problem: it’s the fact that they knowingly mislead the public. Most of the posters feature a, a statistic showing some reduction in crime and b, a claim of action taken by the Met – with the strong implication that a was caused by b. But when we asked the Met to provide evidence that it was their actions that caused the result they claimed it did, they simply said:
“[We] recognise that people have to be allowed to use their judgment to attribute statistical changes to actions taken – e.g. a defender’s signing has led to a reduction in goals conceded or a company’s investment in training has led to a fall in goods returned as faulty. The rules are different for a medical trial, of course, but for an organisation seeking to demonstrate its effectiveness, [we] see no problem provided the original crime stat is right and the associated police action took place at the relevant time.”
We’re not the only ones who can see this for the obvious bullshit it is: Sense about Science have created a checklist for spotting misleading claims from police and politicians (and their pr machines), and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies have rightly pointed out that the Met would have to be psychic to be able to verify many of their claims.
If the posters aren’t simply impartially imparting information to concerned citizens, why do the Met spend so much money on them? We think it’s to help disguise their own criminal record. These posters only appear in boroughs where there is “low confidence in policing” ie. boroughs where communities are at the raw end of racist, violent and corrupt policing. We think the propaganda contained within the posters is as much for police officers as it is members of those communities. We think they wouldn’t have to spend so much money misleading the public if they didn’t behave like such bastards in the first place.
If you agree, why not print out a counter-propaganda poster today? They’re copy-free and available for everyone to download and display as they wish.
An Anarchist Guide to ACAB: http://strikemag.org/an-anarchist-guide-to-acab/
Advertising Shits in Your Head: http://strikemag.org/advertising-shits-in-your-head/
Totally Pointless: http://strikemag.org/totally-pointless/
We Do Not Consent: https://vimeo.com/100355463
ACAB Tees: https://strikemag.rapanuistore.com/product/acab-t-shirt/