'See It. Say It. Sorted.' Is Staying Despite Promise To Banish Tannoy Spam

·4 min read
Transport secretary Grant Shapps (Photo: Department for Transport)
Transport secretary Grant Shapps (Photo: Department for Transport)

Transport secretary Grant Shapps (Photo: Department for Transport)

The “See It. Say It. Sorted.” slogan is here to stay despite a government promise to banish repetitive rail announcements, HuffPost UK can reveal.

In January, Grant Shapps called for a “bonfire of banalities” to reduce the amount of tannoy spam rail passengers are forced to endure.

The transport secretary said commuters were too often “plagued by an endless torrent” of repeated and unnecessary announcements.

He vowed to “bring down” the number of announcements to make journeys “more peaceful”.

The government said a review would take place over this year, with redundant messages removed within months.

The policy was widely welcomed, with commuters hoping the infamous “See It. Say It. Sorted.” slogan was thrown on Shapps’ furnace.

However, officials have confirmed to HuffPost UK that the British Transport Police slogan is here to stay because it is “critical” for safety and security.

This is despite the prolific announcement being branded “the most annoying slogan of the century”.

Officials stressed they always made clear that announcements critical for safety and security would be kept. However, it did not stop pundits and the press hoping for a change.

Shapps’ promise to curb tannoy messages was first previewed in The Sunday Times in June 2021. The paper dubbed the “See It. Say It. Sorted.” slogan the “most irritating” in the history of British transport.

The cull was formally announced on January 21, 2022, complete with a glossy video starring the transport secretary on a train.

In the clip, the cabinet minister can be seen trying to read a copy of The Telegraph appearing irritated by tannoy announcements.

Speaking to camera, he says: “Do we really need to be told to put our newspapers in the bin? Or that the weather outside is inclement?

“Passengers just need to be treated as grown ups and able to use their common sense.”

He said they had reviewed the messages on tannoy systems and where they add nothing but “noise and irritation” they were removing them.

Columnist Rod Liddle celebrated Shapps’ announcement, describing the “See It. Say It. Sorted.” phrase as “fabulously irritating”.

“Frankly, the snappy, hectoring vernacular always makes me consider taking out membership of al-Qaeda,” he added.

The Daily Mail reported that ministers would consider curbs on the bombardment of announcements such as “See it. Say it. Sorted.”.

Meanwhile, the i Paper ran the headline: “See it, say it, shut it: Government moves to end tannoy tyranny of train announcements.”

However, the department for transport told HuffPost UK: “Messages that are critical to enhance safety, or that ensure the railways are accessible for all, will remain and this includes the ‘See It. Say It. Sorted.’ security campaign.”

They said they were “working closely” with train operating companies to significantly reduce announcements, adding: “Some passengers should already be experiencing a difference, with the removal of redundant messages continuing this year.”

Pressed on what “redundant messages” had been removed so far, DfT said some Network Rail stations in London had been making the “See It. Say It. Sorted.” announcement at twice the frequency they required. However, now the extra messages were no longer being made.

They said passengers should not expect to hear messages on trains more than once every 30 minutes and on longer journeys, with fewer stops, it will be less often.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said Shapps was “wasting his time with meaningless gimmicks”.

She told HuffPost UK: “What the British people need to hear from Grant Shapps is a plan to end the travel and transport chaos that’s engulfing the country.”

The DfT stressed the tannoy reductions were requested by passenger groups, including accessibility groups to improve the quality of audible information on trains.

“They were announced four months ago, and passengers are already benefitting from fewer announcements – with work continuing to reduce them further,” they added.

In response to Labour’s criticism about recent transport chaos, sources said the aviation industry was responsible for staffing and that rail union negotiations do not happen with the government.

The “See it. Say it. Sorted.” campaign was launched in November 2016 under Theresa May’s government to encourage passengers to report unusual items or activity.

If commuters spot something unusual they are encouraged to speak to a member of rail staff or text British Transport Police.

Government officials said that while “important safety and security messages” will remain, passengers should not hear them repeated at such short intervals as they did previously.

They said passenger vigilance and reporting anything unusual was important to keep rail safe for everyone.

Industry-wide guidance on ensuring announcements are “consistent, relevant and less repetitive” had also been issued.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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