Tuesday, November 11, 2008

'Cardboard cops are a gimmick': Police force slammed for putting life-size officer cut-outs around town

Many British people would love to see more police patrolling their streets - but when cardboard cut-out officers began appearing around a Somerset town they were perhaps destined to be branded a gimmick.

Avon and Somerset police force, in Taunton, decided to dot life-size cut-outs of themselves around town to boost public confidence.

And despite the forces' insistence their cardboard copies are 'absolutely not' intended as a cheap alternative to real crimefighters they've been branded an 'unnecessary gimmick' by a taxpayers' campaign group. ,
Residents visiting local supermarkets, schools and public shows are currently being confronted with the replicas - two of whom sport tattoos on their arms.

The five models are understood to have cost £100 each.

The cardboard coppers are in fact helping the public familiarise themselves with the genuine articles and make them 'more approachable', the force claimed.

A promotional picture shows five beat managers from the Safer Stronger Neighbourhood team in uniform, alongside their cardboard counterparts.

Chief Inspector Yan Geogiou, and Sergeant Andy Murphy are presiding over the shot.

Sgt Murphy explained: 'This initiative is another opportunity to let people know that their local officers are approachable and able to help.

'It's a case of recognition, if people in our neighbourhoods know the name and face of their Beat Manager it makes them more familiar and therefore approachable.'

But Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the Taxpayers Alliance, said: 'This is an unnecessary gimmick. Everyone knows what a police officer looks like. Most people just wish they saw a real one more often.

'Perhaps people would approach bobbies on the beat more if there were larger numbers of them on patrol.

'Cardboard cut-outs are no substitute for actual policing. No cut-out, to my knowledge has ever slapped handcuffs on a criminal.'
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