Authority defends police newspaper costs
TAXPAYERS frustrated at soaring Essex council tax bills are set to see a new £50,000 police newspaper drop through their doors.Essex Police Authority is required by law to produce an annual report and up until now costs have been minimised by displaying only a limited number in public libraries.
TAXPAYERS frustrated at soaring Essex council tax bills are set to see a new £50,000 police newspaper drop through their doors.
Essex Police Authority is required by law to produce an annual report and up until now costs have been minimised by displaying only a limited number in public libraries.
But, in a departure from previous years the authority, which is set to raise its annual precept to the taxpayer by 20%, has just spent almost £50,000, the equivalent of one police officer, on an eight-page newspaper that will be delivered to every home in the county.
Whereas last year's version appeared as a glossy brochure-style document with facts and figures, this year's will appear as a newspaper containing articles on police dogs and cadets.
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Leader of the Labour group at Essex County Council, Paul Sztumpf, questioned the wisdom of spending so much money when there could be other uses for it.
He said: "I'm sure there must be other county and district publications that can be used to get the police's message across.
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"This is a lot of money to be spending on something like this. It is the cost of a policeman and we do need more of them.
"I somehow doubt this is the most cost-effective way of spending public money."
Essex county councillor Robert Chambers who chairs Essex Police Authority said he had come up with the idea to replace the glossy brochure because he felt the police needed to put across to everybody the work that they were doing.
Justifying the cost of the 700,000 printed newspapers, he said: "The money we're spending on this may well equate to one more police officer, but it's not as simple as that – where would we put him? Everyone would want him on their own patch.
"If we get a lot of complaints from people saying what a waste of money this is, then of course we will review what we do for next year."
"Everybody is concerned about the police and people are always asking for more visible policing. This is part of that process – we want to show that we are improving, that we are getting more policemen.
"We need to make the public realise that we care and that we are always available at all times and they can call and ask any questions about our work they like.
"People want to have more information about and I thought what better way of doing that than to put a copy through every letter-box in the county."