Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 13:52 UK

Police pledge adverts criticised

A police officer
Critics say the campaign money should have been spent on police officers

The government has been criticised over a £3.5m advertising campaign for the police service.

The Taxpayers' Alliance said money from the "pledge" adverts, which aim to respond to public concerns, should have been spent on extra police resources.

The campaign runs on posters, in newspapers, on the internet and on radio stations until mid-May.

The Home Office said the scheme was regarded as a "major step forward in raising standards".

Mark Wallace, campaigns director of The Taxpayers' Alliance, said the adverts were a "pointless statement of the obvious".

He added: "They pledge to 'respond to concerns about crime' - well isn't that what the police are there to do? What were they doing before they made the pledge?"

"That the government should spend £3.5m of taxpayers' money advertising this statement of the obvious when we are in the middle of the biggest recession since the 1930s is just incredible.

It's no good if the public have a set of rights but don't know about them
Home Office spokesman

"Why don't they just spend it on more police officers? How many police officers would £3.5m pay for? What would the man in the street want it spent on do you think?"

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government has worked with the police to secure a policing pledge - a set of promises from the police to the public about what service they should expect.

"It is the first time that there have ever been national commitments of this kind.

"This is a major step forward for raising standards of service for the public from the police - it enables the public to have their say in policing, set local priorities and challenge the police when they feel they are not getting the service they should be.

"However, none of this will happen if people don't know about the policing pledge - we think it's vital to tell the public what their rights are.

"It's no good if the public have a set of rights, but don't know about them."

In March 2008 the Conservatives accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of using public money to fund "political advertising".

This was after £148,000 of newspaper ads about law and order policies were taken out on the day Mr Brown staged a Labour policing event.

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