Cost-cuts police get ready to spend £3m on PR

POLICE in Yorkshire facing savage budget cuts are preparing to pay external PR firms up to £3m to improve their public image.

The region’s forces, which all have internal marketing departments, are planning to shed thousands of jobs as they strive to overcome a budget shortfall of almost £200m over the next four years.

But the cuts have not stopped Humberside Police inviting private firms to bid for work which its own staff might be unable to handle.

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The force, which must save £30m by 2016, has put out to tender contracts for companies which, if needed, can help to provide support with media relations, design services, campaign planning and “e-communications”.

The region’s other three constabularies would also be able to call on the external PR firms’ expertise under the deals, but they have all denied planning to do so.

Potentially worth between £600,000 and £3m in total, the four-year contracts have been advertised across Europe and are expected to generate significant interest among PR companies.

A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said none of the companies chosen after the tender would be guaranteed any business or money.

“There is no obligation to either spend to this level or for the other Yorkshire forces to become involved in the process,” she added. “The £3m is therefore a potential estimate of what may be spent.

“These services would only be utilised if there was insufficient resource or skills to deliver the service ‘in house’ with the force’s current staff.”

The spokeswoman confirmed that spending cuts meant the force’s Marketing and Media Unit was losing staff and working with a smaller budget, but she insisted this was “not an indication” that its services would be outsourced.