West Midlands Police has withdrawn “insensitive” posters showing the outline of a dead body and urging people not to give cash to the homeless.
The shocking campaign warned ‘Your Kindness Can Kill’ and stated that money given to beggars was often used to buy potentially deadly drugs.
But in an embarrassing u-turn the force is now withdrawing the already publically displayed posters after they were labelled 'crass and insensitive' by its own crime commissioner David Jamieson .
He tweeted in response to a furious Twitter user who had sent him a picture of the poster, which are understood to have been placed on buses and other public places.
Mr Jamieson replied: “I did not and do not approve of the message.
“I’ve discussed with @wmpolice They’re been taken down after going up in error, they do not represent @wmpolice position either.
“They are insensitive, crass and shouldn’t have been produced in the first place.”
The poster features a crime scene outline of a dead person made up of coins, with the police emblem on the bottom right hand side.
It reads: “The money you give to those who beg may actually keep them on the streets.
“In most cases, you will be helping them to buy the drugs that could kill them.
“Give responsibly, support local charities instead.”
But the backlash saw West Midlands Police later confirm it was withdrawing the posters.
A statement said: “Rough sleeping and homelessness is a national problem, here in the West Midlands we work alongside partner agencies to try to tackle this issue.
“A small number of posters were produced, following artwork used elsewhere in the country, in a bid to raise awareness and, in some areas, this has helped reduce the issue.
“We are aware that the poster may be deemed insensitive and as a result we are removing them from public places.
“In Birmingham, we will continue to work as part of the city centre’s Street Intervention Team to do everything we can alongside our partners to help those in need.”
Several homeless people have died on city streets during the past few years.
In December, the body of Paul Williams , 38, was discovered near the Bullring after he had slept rough in freezing conditions.
And in January a homeless man who was sleeping in a tent on a Dudley housing estate was found dead.
The man, known by locals as “Steve”, was discovered on a freezing cold day.
Local residents said he had been sleeping rough in a tent in Priory Road for several weeks.
Mr Jamieson later added that those living on the streets needed kindness and support.
He said : “I was disappointed when I saw the posters. They do not reflect my views, nor those of the force.
“I raised my displeasure at these posters with the police this morning and I am pleased they are now being taken down.
“The posters are insensitive, crass and should never have been produced in the first place.
“People end up on the streets for a variety of reasons. There is no one thing driving homelessness, nor keeping them on the streets.
“I am proud to be supporting the Street Intervention Team, through funding from myself. The Street Intervention Team help rough sleepers and work towards getting them off the streets.
“ Homelessness and rough sleeping is a scar on modern Britain.
“I have consistently said people who find themselves on the streets deserve our kindness and hand of friendship.”