Rail commuters across the country have heard it – the security announcement that starts “If you see something that doesn’t look right …” and ends with the earworm “See it, Say it, Sorted”. It’s one of those advertising lines that through a mix of alliteration, questionable grammar and sheer repetition gets in your head, and stays there.
It’s voiced by real rail staff, and is part of a campaign (using posters, social and other media) to increase public awareness and reporting of crime and potential terrorist acts. And it works too – in the first year after the campaign launched, reports to the police by the public increased by 90%, preventing or disrupting a number of hostile acts.
Irritating? Possibly. Effective? Definitely.
The Guardian recently asked whether See it, Say it, Sorted is the most annoying ad slogan of the century and an editor of The Daily Telegraph said those responsible should ‘swing’ for it. Ironic considering the reason for the campaign. Other journalists, perhaps pondering what to write about during a train journey, have picked on the grammar, the frequency, the sheer unavoidability.
The campaign has proved a rich source of material for comedy writers too, often as the punchline on TV and radio shows. It’s been borrowed and adapted by everyone from Twitter to the Brexit remain campaign. Partygoers sing along to it on their way home. It’s even the chorus to a track by London hip-hop outfit 404. Like it or loathe it, See it, Say it, Sorted is now part of our culture.
Some are concerned that a campaign which raises awareness of potential threats makes people unnecessarily fearful; a challenge for any counter-terrorism activity, which can only be justified if it makes peoples’ journeys safer. Increased reporting does that (in this case by texting British Transport Police on 61016) and research suggests most people understand that there needs to be a balance.
The robbery victim who sees her attackers caught at the ticket barrier or passengers seeing a man being stopped by police with a weapon on their station platform are some of the reasons why campaigns like this are an unfortunate necessity. It’s why our work with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the Department for Transport is worth doing.
See It, Say It, Sorted is an effective, albeit annoying, way of helping to keep rail travellers across the country safe.
Published in City AM