England

Police commissioner's £7k spend on promotional items

  • 9 July 2014
  • From the section England
Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner items
Image caption The Police Commissioner's office said spending on promotional items was "carefully-costed"

Devon and Cornwall's police commissioner has been criticised for spending more than £7,000 on promotional materials that include lip balms, magnets and sweets.

Tony Hogg spent £7,617 in 16 months on products to publicise his work, a BBC Freedom of Information request found.

Critics said the money could have been better spent.

Mr Hogg's office said the items were to "encourage participation" from members of the public.

The amount spent by the commissioner on promotional materials from November 2012 to 24 March, 2014 was £7,617.32. Items purchased also included pens, notepads, leaflets, and posters.

The BBC asked about spending after being contacted by the Duggan family in Westward Ho!, who were concerned by the materials given to their son at Petroc College in Barnstaple, Devon.

The boy's father, Jay Duggan, said students were given a talk about Mr Hogg's work and items were handed out.

Mr Duggan said: "I believe that the money would be better used by the actual police, as opposed to fuelling his vain justification of his job."

Nigel Rabbitts, of the Police Federation in Devon and Cornwall, which represents officers up to the rank of chief inspector, said: "How Tony Hogg spends money is an ongoing concern.

"Any increase in bureaucratic spending means less money for police officers in the community."

Image caption Tony Hogg's office said other public-funded organisations used such promotional tools

During the same period, commissioner Sue Mountstevens in neighbouring Avon and Somerset spent £2,626 on promotional materials. In Dorset, Martyn Underhill spent £7,420.

Mr Hogg's office said spending on such items was "carefully-costed".

It said: "We have a responsibility to consult on a wide variety of issues with local people, and we believe that it is therefore appropriate to encourage participation by providing a range of literature about the work we do, and offer some small items that advertise our contact details.

"We are no different to many other public-facing, and funded, organisations in this regard."

Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "Labour opposed police and crime commissioners as a wasteful distraction at a time when the police were having to impose deep cuts on the service.

"Their performance has not generally impressed and I'm pleased Labour is committed to replacing them with a cheaper and more representative system of police accountability through police boards to release much needed money for front line policing."

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