Opinion: Letters - Police press officers play vital roles

Recent national coverage of police spin doctors had missed some key issues in this often misunderstood area of PR. Budgets are often less than 0.5 per cent of individual force spending. Replacing press officers with cops would not show a huge net gain in extra officers on the street. In fact, a fifth of my budget funds a specialist unit of just three staff who handle the 6,000 plus calls we get from the regional and national media each year. Paying an officer to do this would cost up to 50 per cent more.

Forces, particularly those situated in rural areas, are simply funding the massively increased communication workload necessitated by the Home Office's neighbourhood policing agenda.

Of course, excellent communication comes at a cost: hiring specialist staff to create effective public information campaigns. It is worth noting that increased seizures of criminal assets through the Proceeds of Crime Act are covering much of the increase on PR - a strong message we have enforced in recent campaigns.

Paul Breakwell, head of media and corporate communication, Dorset Police.

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