Monday, 2 August 2010

*Christine Wiles, the psychic who works with the Police

I hope you've all been enjoying your holidays as much I have. The inspiration for a good ASA complaint can appear from almost anywhere!

UPDATE, 15 Sep: It seems my suspicions were correct! The ASA have written to confirm the advertiser has "assured us that the leaflet is no longer being distributed, and that she will not make the claims in future."

This handsome woman is Christine Wiles, a psychic who inhabits those Elysian Fields Of Plenty otherwise known as Billing Aquadrome.

Christine claims she "has worked with the Police, but her work in this field remains confidential" - a claim that seems rather implausible, given that not a single police force in the UK will admit to working with psychics. (Here's the evidence.)

In fact, some of these modern-day soothsayers can prove to be a serious drain on time and resources - read this Guardian story for one recent case which case the taxpayer £20,000.

Well, Christine, even though your "work with the Police" has to "remain confidential", you're still required to hold documentary evidence before advertising the fact. I wonder if you do? (ASA complaint follows.)

"I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at Billing Aquadrome (Northamptonshire) this past weekend.

The flyer, for Christine Wiles, promotes her services as a "Clairsentient / Clairaudient / Clairvoyant / Spiritualist Medium".

I suspect that the flyer may be in breach of four sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the flyer by post, if required.

1. Christine Wiles is a medium who works out of two small premises, one at Billing Aquadrome itself and another at the adjacent Billing Garden Village site. I picked up the flyer in a separate shop on the Billing Aquadrome site.

2. The flyer makes the following claim:

"Christine [Wiles] has worked with the Police, but her work in this field remains confidential."

3. I am unaware of any police force, anywhere in the United Kingdom, who have ever worked with psychics and mediums.

4. A 2006 survey [1] of police forces found that, of the twenty-seven forces who responded, not one works with psychics and mediums. Some examples include:

"As far as I know we have not and do not use psychics" - Metropolitan Police

"To my knowledge, no psychic has been used to assist any serious crime within Warwickshire" - Warwickshire Police

"Extensive enquiries have been made in relation to your request and Hertfordshire Constabulary can confirm that it holds no information relating to the use of psychics" - Hertfordshire Police

5. I am unaware of any criminal investigation, anywhere in the world, in which a psychic or medium has provided useful information which led to a conviction.

6. (i) In fact, since in a serious crime investigation all leads must be followed up, there is evidence that psychics and mediums are a serious and wasteful drain on police resources.

(ii) Just one recent example is the £20,000 spent by Dyfed-Powys Police in a murder investigation (reported by the Guardian [2]).

7. Under Section 3.1 of the CAP code, I challenge whether Christine Wiles holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims:

(i) The claim that Christine Wiles has ever worked with the Police

(ii) The claim Christine Wiles' alleged work with the Police "remains confidential"

(iii) The implied claim that Christine Wiles' psychic abilities, with which she is "happy to do individual readings or group bookings", are reliable enough to be useful to the police

8. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the above claims are "likely to mislead by inaccurary, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

9. (i) There is a widespread public perception, encouraged by certain programmes on satellite television, that psychics regularly work with Police forces. As I have demonstrated above, this perception is false.

(ii) Under Section 6.1, I therefore challenge whether the above claims "exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers", and under Section 2.2 I challenge whether the flyer has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

[2] Guardian, 6 November 2009, tp://

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