BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Police communications under the spotlight

The Association of Police Press Officers (APPRO) has raised

concerns over funding as it cautiously welcomes attempts by the

Government to boost police PR.



'The worry is for some of the smaller forces who do not have the funds

to do things they would like to do in terms of communications,' said

APPRO chair Sue Nicholson.



She insisted police forces in general already have a strong commitment

to PR but face the question of how it can be better managed to reduce

the fear of crime.



The Government wants police forces to step up PR to reduce that

fear.



A report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary this week urged forces to

be 'smarter' in their communications and marketing.



In examining ways of reducing fear of crime, the report wants to see

higher visibility of the traditional bobby on the beat, better handling

of emergency calls and a greater use of PR to raise awareness about

police achievements.



APPRO blames, in part, a lack of funds in regional news offices, which

means that while the crime incident is given a high news billing often

only the high-profile resolutions at a crown court level are

covered.



Better integration between court clerks and police could help, she

suggests.



The report came just days after the Government's White Paper on police

reform, which aims to make the police more accountable to the community

as well as improving efficiency.



Controversially, this included giving uniforms and some police powers to

civilian wardens, to be known as community support officers.



The Police Federation's corporate affairs team is launching a full

lobbying campaign in January. A strategy will be drawn up after

consultation with officers.



Media relations, co-ordinated by PRO Julie Ballard, has already focused

on officers' concerns over the use of civilians in policing roles and

reform of pay and conditions.



The Federation also argues the reforms don't do enough to help officers

work more efficiently and is calling for investment in technology to

free officer time spent on paperwork.



It would seem as though more needs to be done to assure police PROs that

support will be made available to reducing the fear of crime.



Especially since they face a tough internal comms challenge in

persuading officers that the White Paper reforms are in the forces' best

interests.



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