Sunday 16th January 2011, 6:00PM GMT.
Shocking posters put up of a balaclava-wearing, knife-wielding thug urging people to join a Shropshire Thai boxing club or risk being robbed or sexually assaulted have been condemned by police.The posters, circulated by Telford Thai Boxing, has been branded “irresponsible” by one of the town’s top police officers, who said the crime figures that appeared on the posters were “a complete fabrication”.
It claims there were more than 19,000 reported thefts – 52 a day – and 800 robberies – 14 a week – in Telford from April 2008 to April 2009.
It says: “Worried? You should be” and urges people to act now by learning self-defence before they become a statistic.
But Superintendent Gary Higgins, Telford’s police commander, said: “These posters are irresponsible and could cause unnecessary fear and concern for local residents.
“We will be contacting the Thai Boxing Club to establish who is responsible for producing and distributing the poster and will then discuss its content with them.
“Not only is the image and some of the language used on the poster extremely emotive and without any relevance to the lives of people living locally, but also the figures that the poster quotes on each crime type are completely inaccurate.
“For example, according to the poster, the number of crimes in Telford in 2008-09 was 78,400. This differs enormously from the total number of crimes actually recorded for the same year-long period which stood at 13,137. The poster also claims that there were 800 robberies in Telford in 08/09 yet the actual recorded figure was 133.
“To demonstrate quite how inaccurate the quoted figures are, there were actually only 559 robberies recorded across the West Mercia area as a whole – Shropshire, Telford, Herefordshire and Worcestershire – in 2008-09, so again the figures quote are at best misleading, but at worst are a complete fabrication.”
A spokesman for the boxing club, who did not wish to be named, said the key to the poster was not the figures but raising awareness.
He said: “We are not advocating violence as a means to an end but teaching realistic techniques in a realistic environment.
“Stats mean nothing unless you are, or know, a victim. When you know young adults left scarred for life then you start to want to prevent more people being meaningless numbers on a controversial poster.”
By Danny Carden and Wayne Beese