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Crimestoppers Trust ‘Urban Discovery’ guerrilla campaign

Crimestoppers Trust ‘Urban Discovery’ guerrilla campaign

Best practice from Quiet Storm


To gather vital criminal intelligence, and so cut crime, in 6 ‘Trident’ boroughs in London, by getting people to call Crimestoppers.


Historically Crimestoppers activity had focused on ‘do-gooders’ and ‘curtain twitchers’: people highly likely to call when a crime is committed, but unlikely to have any information of real use to the police.


We suggested that this was not the best use of tax payers money, and that it would be more effective to target people who actually knew stuff: the kids hanging out on the street, who were very much aware of names, places and events…not least because they were there (or there abouts). And because the people committing crimes would often come and brag about them.

For this switch in targeting to work, it was vital to get these kids on side. We needed them to see Crimestoppers as an anonymous charity not an extension of the police force.

And in the face (quite literally) of all this criminal activity, fear and suspicion, to see calling Crimestoppers as a good, even cool thing to do…not as grassing people up. In the past Crimestoppers had relied on conventional media (posters, press ads) to talk with people.

But these kids were a very cynical, media literate group, likely to filter out and ignore what were seen as ‘big’ and ‘corporate’ advertising messages.


Rather than preaching at them, as conventional advertising would be seen to do, we felt they needed to ‘discover’ things for themselves.

As such, we wanted the ‘media’ used to be relevant to their lifestyle in a real and tangible way – present in locations (the streets, music shops, bars etc.) they found meaningful.

We described this media strategy as ‘Urban Discovery’: guerrilla activity, working outside of conventional advertising channels. But just being in the right place wasn’t enough. In addition, the creative execution itself needed to be worthy of picking up.

At the time of this campaign (and still), collectable cards and Japanese-style plastic figures had a big cachet amongst young people. With this in mind, our idea was to create a range of criminal caricatures (and in the lampooning of them, puncture some of the cool street cred these people enjoyed), turning these characters into collectable ‘Top Trump’ style cards.

These were then inserted into ‘nick me’ wallets and dropped on streets, stuck fridge magnet-style on the cars used as mobile ‘hang outs’, tucked into the pockets of clothes in cool stores etc.

Each collectable item had the Crimestoppers phone number on it, with a message that reinforced the hard facts about the number of crimes solved due to relevant information given to Crimestoppers, and how calling was anonymous.

One final, but important piece of the jigsaw was that, for the first time, we also persuaded the Met Police (primary funders of the Crimestoppers service) to remove their logo from this activity, as any sense of police involvement was guaranteed to alienate the kids we needed to get on board.


Following this activity, calls to Crimestoppers from the Trident areas increased, and have continued to do so.

And whilst all information is both confidential and sensitive, meaning conventional performance measures couldn’t be divulged to Quiet Storm, immediately following the initial activity, we were told that two major murders were solved.

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