Welwyn Hatfield Tory candidate urges police to slash PR spend

TORY parliamentary candidate Grant Shapps has urged Hertfordshire Constabulary to cut its managers and PR budget.

Mr Shapps spoke out this week after the release of a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which claimed the force’s HR expenditure was the highest in the country.

It also emerged �846,946 was spent on media services in 2009/10 – the eighth highest spend of the country’s 43 police forces.

Mr Shapps, who launched a campaign against a proposed merger with Beds Police earlier this year, believes that cutting managers and slashing PR expenditure would help protect front line policing.

He said: “The choice has been presented as ‘merge or lose police’, when that isn’t the case.

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“We get good value for money, but it’s not perfect and alternative savings can and should be made.

“HR needn’t be the most expensive in the country and PR can cost less, as it does in other forces.”

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However, Andrew White, chief executive of Hertfordshire Police Authority, said HMIC’s report had quoted incorrect figures about the size of the force’s HR department.

He said: “We informed them of this in October, but the recent publication was not amended.

“As for the costs of corporate communications, the police authority intends to scrutinise this department over the next year.

“However, it would be wrong to characterise their work as just being public relations. The majority of output from this department relates to responding to the 24/7 requests of the media, witness appeals and other direct support for operations.”

He added: “Hertfordshire Police Authority will continue to look at ways of meeting the financial challenge with a view to maintaining the performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary as one of the top performing forces in country.”

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