Having been born and raised in rural Wales I’m all to aware of the issues of crime and the difficulty the police have when it comes to covering such a large and rural patch.
An interesting piece of PR came across my desk the other day which demonstrates how a force such as Dyfed-Powys Police can use a good news story to promote how technology and good old fashioned beat policing can make good headlines in the local and regional media and help strengthen community relations.
The force is installing ToughBooks to its fleet of patrol cars in an attempt to keep as many operational officers on the streets and in the communities for as long as possible without having to return to the police station.
While it’s not a new piece of equipment or a new story as such, the promotion of the fact Dyfed-Powys Police is embracing new technology to address the age old problem of bureaucracy keeping officers in the station and off the streets is a good use of PR for the organisation.
Now, I’m not naive enough to say there won’t be some media sceptics who look at the cost implications or simply cast scorn on the likelihood of officers actually spending more time on the beat. But from a community relations and reputation management perspective it’s a good attempt to demonstrate to rural communities (and those in urban areas) how the force is attempting to to do something.
As the police spokesperson said: “What the public continually tell us is they want us out there and visible in communities, and the issuing of these Toughbooks is going to mean that officers can undertake their work on the move. They’ll have access to the information they need when they need it.
“They’ll be able to access emails, their tasks and details of ongoing incidents from the computers in their vehicles which I think is going to make us far more professional, up to date and efficient in the way we do business.”
And what the PR is demonstrating is that they are trying to address the ‘perception’ issue of police being remote or inaccessible in rural communities. Only time will tell to see if it does mean more police on the beat and whether the public, via media outlets and social networks, agree.
Above all, it’s a good use of media activity for reputation management.