You’re ricked!

14 September 2010
Stand back, make way – it’s the police coming through. But hold on a minute, what’s this chugging into view? . . . A tractor, with blue light flashing and everything. This particular vehicle was on loan from manufacturer John Deere to help the boys in blue raise awareness of agricultural crime. But almost £1 million of other promotions have been procured with public money over the past two years as a way of spreading the “police message” in the UK. According to a report in Police Review, £967,660 of 34 police forces’ budgets was spent between 2008-2010 on items including fridge magnets, beer mats, baseball caps, cycle helmets, sports drinks bottles and other giveaways to highlight services such as neighbourhood policing teams. Still, it may have provided light relief for the purchasers more used to buying bullet-proof vests and tasers, and has no doubt allowed them to dip their toe into the mysterious world of marketing spend. Despite successfully boosting public confidence, the coalition government has now put a stop to such “gimmick” purchases, so let’s see what else they can provide on loan: a giant flashing air balloon to tackle cloud‑based crime perhaps? Or a maybe milk float to catch those early‑morning wrongdoers?
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