Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Apology over Halloween 'asylum' ad

An ad for a Halloween party in Portsmouth invited revellers to come to the "asylum" and meet some of the most "disturbed and dangerous patients"

A visitor attraction has apologised after it advertised a Halloween party which invited revellers to come to the "asylum" and meet some of the most "disturbed and dangerous patients".

Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust has withdrawn its promotional material for the event at Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Hampshire, following complaints at its portrayal of people with mental illness.

The issue follows complaints made to supermarkets for selling asylum and psycho fancy dress costumes.

The promotional material for the Action Stations event prompted criticism on its Facebook page.

Sue Billingham wrote: "I am very distressed by the attitude to mental health patients demonstrated in the description of the 'Asylum' where you will be scared by dangerous and disturbed patients.

"I know many in this city, including my husband who battle with mental illness. This shows ignorance and prejudice and marginalises so many in our society. I hope you will reconsider this 'entertainment!'"

And Peter Dobinson wrote: "Err guys, how is this appropriate? Enter the asylum? See the most disturbed patients? Come on, this is not on!"

General manager Kerry Jarvie said: "Action Stations is sorry its publicity for its Fright Night event has caused offence. The material has been immediately withdrawn.

"This event is in its second year and continues the theme along the storyline of a zombie outbreak, regrettably this information was not clearly portrayed in our marketing for the event.

"However, given recent publicity surrounding controversial Halloween outfits, our advertising should have made the event theme clearer.

"We'd like to offer our sincere apologies."

Action Stations gives visitors a hands-on experience of life in the Royal Navy with aircraft and warship simulators and other educational attractions.

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