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 stuck in your head, and stays there.
It’s voiced by real rail staff, and is part of a campaign (using posters, social media, and other advertising channels) to increase public awareness and reporting of crime and potential terrorist acts.
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 that those responsible should “swing” for it – which is ironic considering the reason for the campaign.
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Other journalists, perhaps pondering what to write about during a train journey, have picked on the security announcement’s grammar, frequency, and sheer unavoidability.
And 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.
Sort it out
Like it or loathe it, “see it, say it, sorted” is now part of our culture.
And more importantly, it works. In the first year after the campaign launched, reports to the police by the public increased by 90 per cent, potentially preventing or disrupting a number of hostile acts.
So is it irritating? Possibly. Effective? Definitely.
Of course, some are concerned that a campaign which raises awareness of potential threats makes people unnecessarily fearful. This is a challenge for any counter-terrorism activity, which can only be justified if it makes passengers’ journeys safer. Increased reporting does that (in this case, by texting British Transport Police on 61016) and research suggests that most people understand that there needs to be a balance.
The robbery victim who sees her attackers caught at the ticket barrier or the passengers who witness a man with a weapon on their station platform being stopped by police are just 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.