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PN 22/02 26 April 2002
The publisher of a crime prevention journal has agreed not to make misleading claims about its connection with the police and other crime prevention bodies, following action by the OFT.
Manchester-based Wiseman Publications (UK) Limited has given written assurances to John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading, that it will stop making misleading oral statements. Wiseman's Company Secretary Simon Hudson and Director Dominic Hudson gave similar assurances.
When enquiring whether traders were interested in purchasing advertising space in their journal 'Crime Prevention' – which has been distributed in Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside – the company gave the misleading impression that they were linked to the police.
Welcoming the assurances, John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading, said:
'This action is a clear signal that the OFT will crack down on businesses who use misleading statements or advertising to confuse their customers.'
The case was referred by Manchester Trading Standards Department following a number of complaints from businesses who had been approached by the company.
1. The Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 came into force on 20 June 1988, implementing an EC Directive on misleading advertising. The role of the Director General of Fair Trading under the Regulations is to support and reinforce existing controls, not to replace them. The Regulations give him the power to step in if the public interest requires that advertisements complained of should be stopped by means of a court injunction. Alternatively, the Director General can seek assurances or undertakings.
2. The Director General can act only when a complaint has been received. To come within his scope, an advertisement must be misleading (i.e., must deceive or be likely to deceive and affect economic behaviour), and be published in connection with a trade, business craft or profession to promote the supply or transfer of goods and services.
3. Full details of the assurances signed by Wiseman Publications (UK) Ltd are given below. Similar assurances were signed by Wiseman's Company Secretary Simon Hudson and by its Director Dominic Hudson.
The Company shall not (whether by its officers, employees or agents or otherwise) from the date hereof publish, disseminate or cause or otherwise be concerned in the publication or dissemination of any of the following advertisements, namely:
(a) any advertisement in similar terms, or likely to convey expressly or implicitly the following false impressions:
i) (oral statement) that the Company or any journal it publishes are connected to the local Police;
ii) (oral statement) that the Company or any journal it publishes are connected to any crime prevention body.
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