Richmond in police initiative

A London police force has taken the unusual step of bringing in PR advice from a local council to conduct its ‘community reassurance’ project.

Richmond-upon-Thames Council, whose comms function is outsourced to Westminster City Council, is driving the project.

Councils are traditionally responsible for communicating efforts to counter anti-social behaviour such as graffiti, whereas the police work to reassure the community that action is happening against crime.

'Levels of crime across London are falling, but the public don't seem to believe it,' said Westminster head of communications Alex Aiken. 'It is common sense to combine the two efforts – councils are very good at engaging with hard-to-reach groups, and the police are good at explaining what is happening.'

The measures include a new website, meetings with community groups and internal comms for training police.

WCC has run Richmond Council's communications since May 2003 and has recently had its contract extended to 2007. It also
supplies comms services to several other councils, including Slough Borough Council and the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Richmond Council head of comms Cormac Smith heads up the scheme with marketing officer Pippa Howlett, both seconded from Westminster.

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