Home Office's 'go home' van ad probed by advertising watchdog

India News Bulletin Desk
UKBA's "go home" van campaign
Image: YouTube still

The controversy around Home Office’s recent immigration campaign -- ‘Go home or face arrest’ -- intensified further as UK advertising regulator ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) launches an investigation.

The pilot scheme saw a van being driven across London towns such as Brent, Ealing, Barnet, Hounslow, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham with the words: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrests”.

The ad further read: "106 arrested in your area" and encouraged illegal immigrants to text "home" to the number 78070. The area is said to refer the six boroughs through which the vans were driven.

The £10,000 campaign ran for a week from July 22, 2013.

Critics feared the bold campaign could spark racist violence. The advertising regulator received over 60 complaints on the Home Office scheme.

In a statement, the ASA said complainants had expressed concerns that the advert, in particular the phrase "go home", was offensive and irresponsible.

"Separately, some complainants have challenged whether the claim '106 arrests last week in your area' is misleading," the ASA added.

The controversial Home Office campaign on immigration faced criticism from Liberal Democrats and human rights campaigner Liberty.

Liberty launched a counter-campaign this week as a response to the “Go home” ad.

Liberty’s van took to London’s streets with the alternative slogan “Stirring up tension and division in the UK illegally? Home Office, think again”.

Liberty’s van circled the Home Office, Westminster and the surrounding area in the morning, before visiting Kensal Green and Walthamstow – two of the London boroughs targeted during the spot-checks – in the afternoon.

The Home Office does not have legal authority for the type of speculative immigration spot-checks it is carrying out, according to Liberty. 

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