U.K. Police Commissioner Under Fire for Promotional Product Spending
Tony Hogg, commissioner of the Devon and Cornwall police in England, is drawing heavy criticism for his department's promotional product spending, BBC reported. According to the news outlet, which filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain exact figures, Hogg spent £7,617 on promotional items, including pens, magnets and lip balms, over 16 months spanning November 2012 to March 2014.
After some of the items were distributed at a local college, the family of one student contacted BBC to express concern over the police force's spending. Said the report:
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 fueling his vain justification of his job."
The backlash wasn't limited to the public. Hogg's promotional spending was also criticized by Nigel Rabbitts of Devon and Cornwall's Police Federation, who told BBC, "How Tony Hogg spends money is an ongoing concern. Any increase in bureaucratic spending means less money for police officers in the community."
England is in the midst of ongoing budget cuts to many of its 43 police forces, with total government funding at £8.5 billion in 2014, down from £9.7 billion in 2010. And according to Yahoo News U.K., England's police force is "experiencing one of the most turbulent periods in its history, facing accusations of adopting a politicized approach and claims of extravagant spending during a time of austerity."
But the £7,617 translates to approx. $13,000 U.S.—just over $800 a month for the time period in question. Given Devon and Cornwall's annual police budget of £284 million (approx. $485 million U.S.), Hogg's promotional spending seems tame. And it's nowhere near the U.S. Marshals department's $800,000 promotional spend from 2005 to 2010, or the U.S. General Services Administration's $400,000 spend over four years—both of which generated considerable controversy in the U.S.
Hogg's office defended its promotional spending in a statement to BBC: "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, organizations in this regard."