A Yorkshire police force is to start charging commercial television companies for filming its officers at work.
North Yorkshire Police says it will ask programme-makers who stand to make a profit from their filming for a donation and plough the money back into crime prevention initiatives.
It says the move will bring it into line with what is being done at most other forces in the country and will help balance its books at a time when it is making millions of pounds a year in savings.
In recent weeks the county force has been examining possible income generation ideas and now hopes to bring in funds by making best use of its existing estates and resources, “such as rental of excess space, film and TV rights, and progressing the green agenda”.
But senior officers have decided against charging for services that the force already provides or expanding existing services, such as training, as other forces currently do.
Minutes from a recent meeting of the executive board, which includes chief constable Dave Jones and police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, say discounted possibilities include “sponsorships for core policing, advertisement and training services on a large scale”.
They also decided not to sell the force’s AJ1 number plate, which adorned the staff car used by North Yorkshire’s Chief Constable for 100 years but in 2007 was transferred to a mobile police station.
A spokesman said: “Police services across the country continue to be under pressure financially, and we don’t anticipate that this will change in the foreseeable future.
“We are already looking at ‘the big things’ – the way we deliver services, and the way we structure our operations - to make sure we are working as efficiently as possible.
“But we haven’t stopped there. Our duty is to achieve best value-for-money for the tax-payer in every aspect of our work, and that is particularly the case in times of austerity. So we have also recently considered some other ideas about where we could off-set costs.
“Like many other police services, we get approached by commercial programme-makers, who are keen to feature North Yorkshire Police in their films. Most other forces make a charge for this, but up until now North Yorkshire Police hasn’t done so.
“However, on review, we have decided that in certain circumstances, we will ask commercial programme-makers who stand to make a profit from their filming, for a donation. This money will be ploughed back into crime prevention initiatives.
“The amounts we are talking about are small, and we’re not approaching this as a money-making venture. It just seems sensible to ask commercial businesses for some financial contribution, especially when other police services are already doing so.”
Police forces around the country are regularly approached by companies producing shows such as Neighbourhood Blues and Traffic Cops, which are often time-consuming for the officers involved.
West Yorkshire Police told The Yorkshire Post that it doesn’t charge for footage used by commercial producers but is selective about what it releases because of the cost, while South Yorkshire Police said it did not charge.
Humberside Police said they had charged in the past but decided whether to do so on a case-by-case basis, often depending on the resources required. A spokesman said a financial contribution is not always made, and that sometimes equipment was donated instead, though on occasion a US company filming firearms officers paid for the ammunition used.
North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “One of my core responsibilities is to ensure value for money on behalf of the public. It is therefore only right and proper that I review the different ways the Chief Constable raises money.
“As a ‘commissioner’ of services, I can also attract income from a number of sources, such as money for victim support.
“When income is generated, it is also equally important to spend the money appropriately and be transparent about the circumstances.
“For example in North Yorkshire, the money generated by the police’s road safety camera vans is ringfenced for road safety.
“This was done with the ‘permission’ of the public by way of an extensive consultation that clearly demonstrated road safety to be a key area of concern and need.”