DORSET Police has announced that it could be rolling out a new money spinning venture to boost Force funds by selling advertising on its patrol cars.
Wondering if a bargain was to be had, I wandered down to Western Divisional Headquarters in Weymouth where I was directed to Inspector Connor Price, head of the new Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) section.
He sat me down and said that a bonnet started from £1,000 while they had a special on this week with two doors for the price of one with a free Bertie the Bobby cuddly toy thrown in.
Popular numberplates were also available including “BLUEBOTTLE 1” “FLATFOOT “ “ROZZERS” and “PARK DA PIG”, all for £35 each with a free replica tax disc.
Very reasonable, I said, and asked if they’d had much advertising take-up by local businesses.
Apparently interest is keen including their first advert which was sold to a Weymouth upholstery company keen to get their message across that “We’ll stitch you up a treat”.
A dance company snapped up the rear of one patrol car to ensure coverage for its jingle “Don’t drink and jive” while a local builder took a front passenger door ad on another patrol car which now bears the snappy slogan: “Get plastered with us!”
More adverts have included one on another patrol car door for a bathroom supplies outlet urging: “If this shower can use us why can’t you?!” while one burglar alarm company took an entire bonnet to make sure everyone saw its advert “Use us Before you Need Them.”
I asked Inspector Price if perhaps some of the Force’s respect and credibility was being lost in this pursuit of hard cash, but he said police had always tried to work with businesses although they had to weed out some adverts.
What were those, I asked, and he cited one they’d had to withdraw from a local sports car racing team which had entreated: “Slow getaway car letting you down? With our tuning you’ll be laughing all the way from the bank.”
When I asked what was wrong with the advert, Inspector Price explained that there was nothing inaccurate about it. He added: “That’s what worried us!”
Interesting times, I thought, as I walked out clutching a goodwill Bertie the Bobby past a row of patrol cars, the last one of which caught my eye.
Workmen were removing its blue flashing light roof assembly, so I asked them what was going on.
One of them replied: “Roof’s been bought guv, so the lights gotta go.”
I asked what was going to take its place and was told that a large yellow ice-cream cone was due to be bolted on with two boards bearing the logo: “Soft on your tongue, not on crime”.
Times were clearly changing fast but I couldn’t believe my eyes at what was being rented just near the building’s main entrance.
More workmen had just finished painting the words “To Let” on it when I asked: “Surely you’re not renting that out?”
They replied: “No mate. It’s for the Chief Constable’s visit this afternoon just in case anyone gets caught short and needs a pee.”
I said: “There should be an “I” in “TOILET,” and walked off shaking my head.