Row over £75,000 cost of police badge campaign

Shaun Wright. South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
Shaun Wright. South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Police chiefs have spent more than £75,000 putting new badges on buildings and marking up vehicles over the last year – despite budget cuts.

South Yorkshire Police need to save £50 million over the next four years after the Government cut funding.

Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles, who is based at Maltby Police Station.

Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles, who is based at Maltby Police Station.

South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation has criticised spending £75,607 on new police station signs and police car markings.

Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright ordered the work when he was elected in November 2012.

He said he wanted to increase the visibility of police officers in communities.

A total of 111 police vehicles which did not carry police markings have now been branded at a cost of £38,692 and signs have been added to 18 buildings, costing £36,915.

Mr Wright said: ”At my request, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police provided me with details on how we could improve the visibility of the police throughout South Yorkshire.

“This included the livery of unmarked vehicles and more prominent signage for police buildings, as well as increasing the number of officers wearing uniform, and the enhancement of mobile technology, allowing officers to spend more time out in our communities.

“I have also pledged to increase special constables from 264 to 650 by April 2015 and we are already well on our way to achieving this target.

“The cost of these initiatives is not substantial, and in these times of austerity it’s about making better use of the resources available to meet the public’s policing and crime needs.”

But Neil Bowles, chairman of South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said the money could have paid for two full-time police officers for a year.

He said: “Increasing police visibility is one strand of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s plan. It is interesting to see the list of buildings with new signage considering the public only have access to six of them in the way of enquiry desks.

“Do the residents of South Yorkshire not know where their local police stations are? One has even been condemned. Parts of it are not safe to work in.

“I doubt if the cost of livery for the plain cars includes the extra equipment they need and the extra training given to their drivers for police incidents that they will now have to deal with alongside their patrol colleagues, rather than performing their core role of perhaps investigation.

“The money spent on the signage of buildings and cars equates to the basic salary of two constables for one year.”