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Watchdog clears “traveller removal” bailiff firm of racially stereotyping

Robyn Ashman

July 31, 2019

A bailiff firm which emailed agents offering a “100% Traveller Removal success rate” has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Agency of racially stereotyping. 

An email from Direct Collection Bailiffs, sent on 24 April 2019, titled “Gypsies next door, new series features Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! Agents” resulted in a complaint to the ASA.

The complainant said they believed the ad had racially stereotyped the traveller community.

The email added that by using the firm landowners and agents could “reduce the likelihood of further travellers congregating, damage to land and fly tipping” – it is this part which it is understood the complainant took objection to.

However Direct Collection Bailiffs said the ad was merely demonstrating that they featured in a television series Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!.

It added that the intention was to promote the service they offered and direct the recipient to how the service was appropriately executed. They said they had no control over the title of the documentary itself and that they only used the term “traveller” to describe those their service related to.

In its finding the ASA said: “The intention of the ad was to inform consumers of the fact that Direct Collection Bailiffs featured in a documentary within which they were asked to remove travellers from a leisure centre and to offer their removal services to the public.

“The ad explained the rights of landowners to remove trespassers from their land.We noted the words “reduce the likelihood of further travellers congregating, damage to land and fly tipping” and understood the complainant was concerned that the ad racially stereotyped the traveller community.

“However, we noted that language referenced the work completed by Direct Collection Bailiffs in the television documentary, under instruction from a borough council.

“While we understood that some may have viewed the link between the work they completed in the documentary to remove travellers and congregation, damage to land and fly tipping as distasteful, the language used was neutral and we considered that recipients would understand that it was intended to reflect the work carried out in the programme.

“In light of that, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

The complaint was not upheld.


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