Sunday 28 November 2021
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Nottingham

PCC spends £575 on public event nobody attended

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner spent £575 on an engagement event that had no members of the public in the audience.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request found no residents attended the event held by Caroline Henry in Kirkby-in-Ashfield last month.

The Conservative commissioner, who was elected in May after unseating Labour’s Paddy Tipping, has been holding engagement events across the county in recent weeks to help guide her upcoming Police and Crime Plan.

Events have taken place across Mansfield, Ashfield, Broxtowe, Bassetlaw and Nottingham, with thousands of people targeted via online and social media adverts.

The FOI found Mrs Henry spent £100 on a social media advertising campaign specifically for the Kirkby event, which reached 27,009 people across Ashfield and Eastwood.

However, her office confirmed that, aside from three police officers, two members of the Police and Crime Commissioner staff, council workers and councillors, “no additional members of the public physically attended the event”.

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The response claims a live stream of the video, which cost Mrs Henry’s office £350 plus VAT to run, had received 1,320 views online as of October 10.

This cost, the response says, includes the £100 spent on advertising.

The FOI also revealed Mrs Henry spent a further £200 on hiring Kirkby’s Festival Hall Leisure Centre for the event, with £25.16 spent on refreshments provided by her office. That took the total cost of the event to £575.16.

Commenting on the FOI, a spokesperson for her office said: “These events are a pioneering new way to engage the public, and Caroline will keep experimenting with new and innovative ways to engage the people of Nottinghamshire in the work of their police force.

“With tens of thousands of people reached through Caroline’s social media outreach and hundreds more through her public events and outings, the commissioner remains convinced she can build new ways to bring the public with her as together we shape the future of our police in Nottinghamshire.”

It comes after a separate FOI request revealed Mrs Henry’s consultation on plans to close Newark Police Station received 911 responses from an overall population of about 40,000 residents.

Of the 911 responses, 726 people voted against the move, with Mrs Henry scrapping the plans following the majority public verdict.

Councillor David Hennigan (Ind), who represents Central Sutton and New Cross in Ashfield, put in the FOI for the Kirkby event and criticised Mrs Henry’s engagements.

He said: “The event in Kirkby was an expensive flop. Not only did it take three much-needed police officers off duty from the streets of Ashfield, but it also had well-paid staff in attendance.

“If it wasn’t for the support of a member of staff and two councillors from Ashfield, they would have been talking to themselves.

“It was poorly advertised, poorly executed and it’s clear the commissioner needs a lesson in community engagement.”

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