[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Police mocked for 'obvious' signs
Herts Police poster
Campaigners have said the posters "assume a lack of intelligence"
A police service has been criticised for using blindingly obvious messages in its campaign posters.

"Don't Commit Crime" is stated on one of Hertfordshire Constabulary's posters - "All fuel must be paid for" has been added on posters at petrol stations.

Language watchdogs the Plain English Campaign said the notices were funny, but an insult to people's intelligence.

Herts police defended the notices saying the obvious was worth stating if it had any impact on crime.

A police spokeswoman said: "We are not saying it is going to stop hardened criminals but it may make someone who is nervous think twice."

The campaign group described the signs as examples of "talking in a vacuum".

"These signs and notices are the opposite of gobbledegook. The 'best' one I have come across was a sign reading 'Caution: Water on road during rain'," a campaign spokesman said.

Warning: Platform ends here (on the end of rail station platforms)
Do not iron clothes on body (from packaging on steam iron)
May cause drowsiness (on sleeping tablets)
Removing the wheel can influence the performance of the bicycle (from a Dutch bicycle manual)
Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally (on a digital thermometer)

"They assume a lack of intelligence on the part of the reader - 'Do not commit crime. Pay for fuel' is hardly a deterrent to a criminal who has every intention of driving off without paying, and is merely an aggressive reminder to everyone else.

"I think the phenomenon comes from a combination of branding and PR spin, combined with the obsession companies have with covering themselves.

"We've all seen pointless notices."

Hertfordshire Constabulary declined to comment on the cost of the poster campaign or reveal any figures on its impact on crime.

A selection of your emails:

Seen at a garage in Geneva, Switzerland: 'Carwash closed for cleaning'
Philip Jones, Frangy, France

'Warning - may contain nuts' on an in-flight packet of nuts (I loved the 'may'!)
Martin Cackett, Nottingham, England

My favourite, and I've cheekily printed it off and displayed it occasionally is..."If you notice this notice, you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing!"
Jon, Cumbria

Found on a child's Superman outfit: "Does not confer power of flight".
DW, Paragon City, RI, USA

On a visit to the ancient city of Ponderosa, California, I took a magnificant picture of a sign that said "Veterinary Hospital - Spay or neuter your best friend." Shame I have few friends really.
Lionel Janks, Arlesey. Bedfordshire.

Having not slept for about a week I went to the chemist to buy some sleeping tablets. On the front of the packet are the words "Caution may cause drowsiness".
Sue Williams, UK

When driving into Swindon there is a sign that says: For town centre shopping, follow "Town Centre". Unbelievable but true!
Peter Cudmore, Bristol

I've just come from Winchester, where there's a sign outside the car park saying "Chesil Street Multi-Storey Car Park. Pedestrians Only. No Parking".
Nick Molyneux, Basingstoke, Hants

I had a friend whose university residence phone had a notice on it reading "WARNING: This device should not be inserted into the eye."
Dave, Manchester

My favourite was a sign in Australia that simply said 'Do Not Throw Stones At This Sign'.
Jack, London

"Do not operate heavy machinery" - on medicine for under-12s.
Martyn Thirlway, Apeldoorn, Holland

Seen in the USA: Cliff edge: No vehicles beyond this point.
Kevin, Dartford

Sign in Forest Hill: "Police are catching criminals here" as opposed to delivering pizzas I suppose.
Mark Nicholson, Swanley, Kent

Many years ago at the Motorcycle Show in London a sign on a Japanese motorcycle engine. "Please note this engine gets hot and should not be used for drying clothes or small animals"
Mark Nicholson, Swanley, Kent

A friend of mine at work was looking for something in his desk then noticed a birthday badge he got on a card for his son a few years back...and had to keep ... why?...... The badge said "2 Years Old Today". On the edge, in very small print, was the legend "Unsuitable for children under three". Classic!!!
Funny But True, North West

My wife recently bought a new hairdryer. Attached was a note that said "Do not use in shower".
Neil Meadows, Wigan, UK

"This sign is not in use". Seen on motorways. But it IS in use given that I read the message...
Mike, London, UK

In pictures: Silly signs
13 Sep 07 |  In Pictures

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific