Police gun advert brings ‘scaremongering’ attack
Policy Exchange accuses Police Federation of playing on public fears with sinister anti-cuts campaign
With gun crime again making headlines in London, the Police Federation is being accused of playing on the public's fears with a scaremongering half-page ad in the Metro newspaper.
The advert in the freesheet, which is distributed to Londoners on their way into Underground stations every morning, courtesy of Associated Newspapers (owners of the Daily Mail), depicts three hooded youths - one pointing a gun at the camera - and poses the question: "Consequences of 20 per cent cuts to policing?"
The answer: "Cuts are criminal".
The ad campaign appears to be taking advantage of public fears regarding a perceived resurgence in gun crime.
Last week, a five-year-old girl, Thusha Kamaleswaran, and a 35-year-old man, Roshan Selvakumar, were shot in a convenience store in south London's Stockwell area. Three people have since been arrested.
The pair were caught in the crossfire after two youths took shelter in the shop from the gang that was chasing them.
Because police officers cannot join a union, the Police Federation, which is funded via voluntary subscriptions, is responsible for helping improve pay and conditions on behalf of police forces - and opposing cuts.
However, the new ad campaign, which would have cost more than £15,000, has been condemned as "irresponsible scaremongering" by the conservative think tank Policy Exchange.
Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at Policy Exchange, told public sector blog 24Dash.com: "By using these sinister images the Police Federation is clearly no longer prepared to engage in rational debate.
"The reductions in police budgets are challenging and they deserve proper debate, but it cannot be right for these cuts to be portrayed as a direct threat to public safety.
"This is not true and it is an abdication of the duty that the police are under to prevent crime and disorder with the resources that society can afford."
Meanwhile, Twitter users were also laying in, with one person tweeting:
"Hmm, Police Federation says I will personally be shot in the face by a hoodie if there's any cuts to police funding. Riiight."
The Police Federation hit back, with a spokesman saying: "What's irresponsible is a 20 per cent cut in police funding. If you take 20 per cent out of policing then there's the potential for real harm. In our society there are still people who will take advantage of the cuts."
The Police Federation is not alone in making direct appeals to the public over the Conservative-Lib Dem austerity measures.
Lambeth council - an area particularly badly hit by gun crime - is one of a number of Labour-run authorities that has produced posters blaming cuts in local services on the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
A Lambeth bus-shelter poster launched in January read: "The government has cut our money so we are forced to cut services." ·
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