Police rip up ‘crass’ homeless posters after they are branded 'insensitive'
Police posters warning people against giving money to the homeless have been scrapped after being slammed by the region’s crime commissioner.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said the campaign posters, put up in Stourbridge, Dudley and Sedgley, should never have been published.
The 300 posters, introduced in February, carry the headline ‘Your Kindness Could Kill’ and show a crime scene outline of a body filled with coins.
As well as being put up in spots around the Black Country, the poster was also circulated around social media and on the force’s neighbourhood alerts emails.
Mr Jamieson said: “I did not and do not approve of the message.
“I’ve discussed (it) with West Midlands Police. They’re been taken down after going up in error, they do not represent West Midlands Police’s position either.
“They are insensitive, crass and shouldn’t have been produced in the first place.”
A West Midlands Police spokesman confirmed the posters had been taken down, but said they had helped ‘reduce the issue’.
He said: “Rough sleeping and homelessness is a national problem, here in the West Midlands we work alongside partner agencies to try to tackle this issue.
“A small number of posters were produced, following artwork used elsewhere in the country, in a bid to raise awareness and, in some areas, this has helped reduce the issue.
“We are aware that the poster may be deemed insensitive and as a result we are removing them from public places.”
The posters were criticised by Vi Wood, who runs Leslie’s Care Packages for the Homeless, helping people in the Black Country.
The 58-year-old, who set up the charity in response to her own experience being homeless following the death of her husband Les, said: “The message on the posters was definitely too strong.
"If you have 10 homeless people and two take drugs, the others who use the money to buy things like a hot coffee lose out. I’m pleased it has been dropped.”
Mrs Wood, who lives in Wollaston, goes on weekly patrols of the Black Country, providing packages to between 10 and 20 people a week. The packages include clothing, sleeping bags, cereal bars. She sometimes gives ‘a couple of pounds’ for people to buy a hot drink.