Govt seeks agency to woo citizen 'bobbies'

The Government is looking for a PR agency to boost confidence in community support officers (CSOs) – one of Labour’s flagship crime-fighting initiatives.

The Home Office wants publicity to help the Government meet its pledge – made by Gordon Brown in his last Budget – to more than double CSO ranks in England and Wales to 16,000 by next April.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'We can confirm that we are set to hire a PR agency to support a wider recruitment campaign for CSOs.'
He declined to add whether a shortlist of agencies had already been drawn up but said the Home Office hoped to pick an agency for the campaign within weeks.

CSOs, introduced four years ago, focus on community safety and anti-social behaviour: they enable the Government to meet public demand for 'bobbies on the beat' without paying a full police salary. Around 6,300 CSOs work Britain's streets.

Their introduction has proved controversial in some quarters. Last year an undercover Daily Mirror reporter claimed CSOs were 'sent in to fight crime badly trained, ill equipped and scared of walking the beat'.

Home Office ministers last month urged police authorities in England and Wales to seek additional funding and sponsors to help pay for CSOs.

They promised that high-street businesses would get publicity and have their logos printed on uniforms in return for their support.

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