IPCC takes on council PR chief who resigned after documentary embarrassment

The former head of PR for Wigan Council, who resigned after the council was involved in ITV documentary Don't Blame the Council, has taken on a new role at the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Chris Dunbar was head of PR at Wigan Council before taking up his present role at the IPCC
Chris Dunbar was head of PR at Wigan Council before taking up his present role at the IPCC

Chris Dunbar started in late January at the IPCC as a senior media officer, handling the media operation for the north of England, based in Sale, Greater Manchester.

He had previously been head of PR at Wigan Council, but resigned at the end of 2015 following what the council said was an "in-depth investigation" into the council's participation in the ITV documentary, which had aired earlier that year.

The programme's portrayal of council workers and operations was seen as deliberately negative by some viewers, while others questioned the council's decision to let it go ahead.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Dunbar spent time outside of the UK on a career break to travel, volunteer and study in Australia and Southeast Asia after leaving the council.

He told PRWeek: "I manage a small team who take care of the IPCC’s media operation in the north of England. My job at Wigan had a much broader remit in terms of overseeing all communications functions, but at the IPCC I’m completely focused on media issues. After working in local government for 12 years, I was keen to try something a little different and freshen up my skills. The IPCC has given me a great opportunity to play a small part in ensuring the public has confidence in our police system and I already feel part of the team after just a few weeks in post."

Created in 2004, the IPCC is the independent adjudicator of complaints against police forces in England and Wales.

Its most recent accounts show that in the year to 31 March 2015 it had nearly 800 staff, dealt with 3,873 referrals, began 241 investigations and received 4,109 appeals.

The IPCC said in 2013 that it would run an independent investigation into allegations of a cover-up within the police force over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

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