A hardware shop owner has been asked by police to take down an offensive sign used to sell laundry bags.

A sign depicting a crudely-drawn racist stereotype and describing large holdalls as “immigrant bags” in a hardware store has been heavily criticised by anti-racism charities.

Sussex Police officers are now attempting to have the signs removed and considering whether any crimes have been committed.

The sign, in Benefactors hardware shop in Broadway, Crowborough, was first brought to wider public attention by composer Nick Harvey who uploaded a picture on to Twitter.

Hundreds of followers retweeted the picture within hours including Brighton and Hove councillor Rob Jarrett who reported it to Sussex Police.

Sussex Police also received a call shortly before 6pm on Wednesday and officers visited the shop the next day to remove the sign but the shop was shut.

A spokesman for Show Racism the Red Card said the charity had seen increased levels of racism towards people perceived as immigrants fuelled by the way immigration has been discussed by politicians and the media over the past decade.

He added: “They may not see the offence created, but their intentions are not relevant.

As an employer and shop used by the public, they are subject to the general duty of the Equality Act 2010 which means they must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and foster good relations between different groups.”


Crowborough Town councillor Andrew Steen said: “I think there would be a lot of people in the town who would find that offensive.

It seems like a bizarre thing to think about let alone even do and it doesn’t strike me as representative of the town at all.

“Given this is the first time they have done something like this, it’s probably sensible for someone to go along and tell them to take it down. I am not that keen on police taking time which could be better spent on other things rather than dealing with a sign.”

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “Attempts are being made to get hold of the owner to speak to them and ask them to remove the sign. We will then investigate to see if any offences have been committed.”

The Argus were unable to speak to anyone at the shop yesterday despite repeated calls.

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