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Kent police spent £1.2m on their PR budget in 2014/2015 a Freedom of Information request by the Press Gazette has revealed.

Kent Police is the second highest spender out of county forces when it comes to their PR budget, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The force spent £1.2m on PR and communications in 2014/2015. The budget has been cut since 2009/2010 when spending was £1.3m.

Neighbouring force Surrey topped the list with a £1.4m budget. Sussex also spent £1.2m and Essex just £700,000.

Kent Police Headquarters, Sutton Road. Maidstone.
Kent Police Headquarters, Sutton Road. Maidstone.

The Met Police is the biggest spender of all the forces, with a £10m communications budget and more than 100 staff. Kent Police has the fifth largest PR operation out of the county forces, employing 27 staff. The West Midlands force has the biggest with 38 staff.

A spokeswoman from Kent Police said: "Communicating with residents, members of the press and victims of crime is an important part of policing the county.

"In addition to promoting crime prevention campaigns, answering social media queries from the public and dealing with up to 100 media enquiries per day the communications team are trained to issue important and potentially lifesaving information in a crisis.

"The staffing figures reflect that of the entire department, including web editors, internal communications officer, a museum curator, social media expert and video programme manager.

"Being able to communicate effectively with residents and members of the press forms a fundamental part of policing and we continue to look for savings within our budget to make absolute best use of our resources whilst offering the people of Kent a first rate service."

The figures have been revealed by the Press Gazette following Freedom of Information requests sent to all 45 forces in the UK.

The results showed that 775 people work in communications positions across 38 UK police forces, with a combined communication budget of £36m. The full list of results can be seen here.

Police have been criticised
Police have been criticised

The majority of county forces have had their PR budgets cut, in line with cuts made to other areas of policing.

Kent Police has already had to save £50m in the last three years, losing 500 jobs in the process and 115 more could go this year.

In January, the Kent Police Federation issued a warning that the force could go into "meltdown" after the police commissioner Ann Barnes set out her spending plans for the year, including cuts of £14.5m and a tax hike of 1.99%.

At the same time, a report warned that on top of this year's savings, a staggering £45.5m more would need to be cut from budgets over the next two years to balance the books up to 2018.

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