Chris Cully, the Managing Director of risk & security management company, Dilitas writes exclusively for Infologue.com about sponsorship of the Police. Chris writes: “In 1989, I was having a discussion with a Chief Superintendent at New Scotland Yard, whereby I proposed a unique form of security to register and protect bikes. It was agreed that if the Met wanted to support this system I would donate a percentage of my profits to the Crime Prevention Panels of the areas where the system was sold.
“The look of horror on the Chief Superintendent’s face was a picture as he clearly saw this offer as some sort of bribe or potential allegation of corruption.
“Let us now fast forward to November 2012 and the recent articles in the popular press about the sponsorship of the police by various groups and companies.
“This week I contacted Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard for some information on the subject of sponsoring. I was sent a copy of a 57-page document detailing those groups and companies who have sponsored the Met from 2007/8 to the present day. This list is fascinating. It shows from whom the donations were received, where in the Metropolitan Police the donation was directed to, what the donation would be used for and the date of the donation.
“The donations range from a few hundred pounds to a several donations of £1,001,000.00 for “the provision of employed staff to the MSC thorough the ESP scheme”.
“Shown on the list are vehicles, cycles, clothing, other equipment and, at a cost of £568,222.95, the “funding of a full fraud investigation unit by APACS”, which I believe is the Association for Payment Clearing Services.
“The provision of sponsoring the police is accounted for under s.93 of the Police Act 1996. The management of the sponsorship of the Metropolitan Police is managed by a department of the Mayors office, thereby providing the transparency of the entire process.
“Is this sponsoring ethical? I would suggest it is entirely ethical as it is managed in an open manner that is consistent with the rules or standards for right and proper practice, which is more than we can say for Members of Parliament and their expenses. The rapid arrival of the sponsorship list from Press Bureau, surely is a testament to this.
“Is sponsoring effective? Should the police be sponsored? Policing in the United Kingdom is a massive undertaking, equal to the capabilities of any blue chip or international corporation. The major difference is that the Police cannot invoice for their services and, unfortunately, do not have the level of commercial or financial expertise possessed by their corporate cousins. Thus, they are entirely dependent on funding from government and have to manage those funds as best they can. Add to this, the police are expected to provide a champagne service on a dandelion & burdock budget.
“Everybody is looking for answer to this continuing problem and, I believe, sponsorship is a legitimate answer to this problem.
“Does it matter if fraud investigation unit is supplied by a commercial organisation? Does it matter if a vehicle supplier supplies police vehicles? I would suggest not. What the victims of crime want are police officers on scene and dealing. Whether they arrive in a sponsored car or on a sponsored bike, it will not matter a jot to the public.
“Conversely, what police officers want are the resources to get out and do the Job and maintain the high levels of specialised training which allows them to police efficiently and effectively. Your average Copper is not going to be fussed where his kit comes from; just that its there and of the appropriate standard for him to use. Sponsorship provides this facility to both the police and the public they serve.
“Naturally, the question of what do people expect for this Sponsorship arise and have been in the press over the last few weeks. In my opinion gifts cease to be ethical if they are given by one party directly to another and are not part of a check & balance system. Whilst the giving of such gifts may be entirely innocent, the method in which they are delivered opens all parties to criticism and potential reputational damage. The police officer who receives a case of drinks from a thankful landlord or another “customer” has crossed the line leaving themselves open to criticism and possible action.
“However, when G4S sponsor £100,000.00 for the funding of Ops Room for cash in transit thefts and Jaguar Cars Ltd sponsor the Driving School with the loan of S Type Jag for specialised driver training, who will be expecting what from those companies?
“Realistically, these companies will be expecting very little and will probably get nothing in return, other than wrecked motor vehicles by the time the the Driving Schools have done their worst! Commercially, they get to reduce their tax bills, develop good commercial relationships with the Mayor’s office, the police and other 3rd parties, which hopefully will help their businesses grow and, in the case of G4S, mitigate the very real risks associated with cash-in-transit operations.
“Sponsorship is a modern and sensible manner of undertaking and completing business. If ethically managed, it benefits all parties and, in this particular example, enables the police to stand firm against budget cuts and provide the level of policing the public wants and expects.”
Opinions expressed by contributors and commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of Infologue.com or Interconnective Limited.