Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 16:39 UK

Watchdog 'to probe PCSO series'

Police Community Support Officers
Beat: Life on the Street looked at PCSOs in Oxford and Lancashire

A government-funded documentary about police community support officers is to be probed by media watchdog Ofcom, the Sunday Telegraph has reported.

ITV1 show Beat: Life on the Street may have breached broadcasting codes by not making it clear it received 800,000 in Home Office funding, the paper said.

Ofcom rules say show sponsors must be clearly identified and not allowed to influence the content of programmes.

A Home Office spokesman said he was confident Ofcom rules were followed.

Two series of Beat: Life on the Street have been broadcast on ITV1, while a third has reportedly been commissioned.

Another programme called Border Force, about the work of the UK Border Agency, is due to be shown on Sky One later this month.

"The Home Office does not influence the content of these programmes after they are commissioned and adhere to Ofcom's strict guidelines on this kind of programme," the spokesman said.

'Important'

Beat: Life on the Street looked at PCSOs in Oxford and Lancashire dealing with anti-social behaviour and other everyday problems.

Home Office logo
The Home Office denies it influenced the programme's content
The Home Office said documentaries of its ilk "play an important role in informing the public, openly and transparently, about the work of the police".

According to the Sunday Telegraph, however, programme makers erred in allowing Home Office officials to have direct involvement in the making of the series.

That claim has been rejected by the show's producer Jules Seymour, who told the paper that "editorial control was always ours".

An ITV spokesman said the channel was "not aware of any compliance issues" involving the programme.

"As with all advertiser-funded programming, Beat: Life on the Street is subject to Ofcom's broadcasting code on sponsorship," he said.

PCSOs support the work of local police forces but do not have the same powers as regular officers.

An Ofcom spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Sunday.


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