Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

Devices such as Mace spray, personal alarms, etc could fall under The Firearms Act 1968, which states “a person commits an offence if, without the authority of the Defence Council, he has in his possession, sells or transfers … any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing”. Swordsticks and Telescopic Truncheons are listed as martial arts weaponry under Section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and, if the product being advertised fits that description, it could be illegal to advertise it in the UK. Marketers (and publishers) should therefore seek legal advice before placing ads for all those devices.

Marketers should avoid using terms such as “Security Announcement” or “Warning” because they might constitute an undue appeal to fear and lead some consumers to be confused about the nature and origin of the communication. CAP advises marketers to avoid exaggerating the amount of crime in an area or implying use of their product is essential for normal everyday activity. Claims such as “We need no reminding of current crime levels” might be acceptable but references to “crime waves” could be regarded as using an undue appeal to fear. See also ‘Fear and Distress’.

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