Police hire PR firm to lead department

Chief Constable Dave Jones and PCC Julia Mulligan. (S)
Chief Constable Dave Jones and PCC Julia Mulligan. (S)

An external PR firm has been appointed to head up the communications department for the county’s police force - at a cost of £40,000 for a six month contract.

Harrogate’s Cicada Communications has been appointed to act as ‘interim head of communications’ for North Yorkshire Police.

This is after a £35,000 communications review commissioned by the force and crime commissioner which found its communications team lacked leadership and strategy.

“Effective communications are vital for a modern police service,” said Chief Constable Dave Jones, adding that the role was crucial to investigations and in times of crisis.

“It is essential that we recruit the right person for this hugely demanding role, and to that end, we have a robust recruitment process in place and will take time to ensure that the best candidate for the job is found.”

Cicada’s appointment was made following the findings of a full review, carried out by Finn Communications at a cost of £35,000. This review assessed the performance of the existing communications team and said it lacked leadership, strategy and structure. Morale was “fragile” among dedicated staff, it said, setting out 33 recommendations to improve - including appointing a permanent head of communications.

The post was advertised in November with a salary of between £64,472 and £71,882 and attracted 30 applications.

As the force is currently interviewing shortlisted candidates, a spokesman said, Cicada has been appointed as an interim head to make ‘quick win changes’.

“At present a senior police officer runs the communications team,” said Julia Mulligan, police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire. “It is clear that police powers are not required for this essential support role and that a communications professional would do two things: improve the service to the public and allow the senior officer to devote more of their time to frontline policing.

“Any attempt to portray this appointment as anything other than an important move to improve the service to the public and enhance the capabilities of North Yorkshire police demonstrates a poor understanding of modern day policing and the need to effectively work with the public in keeping us all safe.”

Mike Stubbs of North Yorkshire’s Police Federation, said: “We would expect to see clear evidence, on completion of this project, that it has proved to be value for money and has resulted in a more effective policing service to the public.”

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