A recruitment drive by Kent Police has backfired and sparked confusion among residents, after rhyming slogans appeared to suggest police officers had turned to a life of crime.
Two posters from the #MoreThanTheBadge campaign sparked criticism online, with many suggesting the force’s attempt to spread a positive message had failed.
One of the posters reads: “From intel to prison cell.”
While another boasts: “From first responder to prison absconder.”
But the force has stood by the posters, which are part of its largest ever recruitment campaign, launched in a bid to employ hundreds more officers.
A hike in council tax this year is being used to fund an extra 200 police officers in the county.
But the news seems to have gotten lost in translation, as the posters left many residents with more questions than answers.
The online furore led to Kent police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott intervening and answering criticism directly on social media.
In response to someone asking whether the campaign was being “serious”, Scott admitted the poster featuring the caption “from first responder to prison absconder” was “perhaps not the best worded one”.
But he added: “The rest of the campaign has worked though and we are seeing more applications come through.”
Scott added in a statement to HuffPost UK: “As part of my investment to recruit an extra 270 police officers by March next year, Kent Police has been running the very successful #MoreThanTheBadge campaign. This has seen the number of applications Kent Police receive every week more than double, when compared with last year.
“The intentions were correct in highlighting the varied careers available in policing. Whilst I haven’t been involved in the design of these posters, it is fair to say that this particular poster perhaps isn’t the best worded one.”
The force defended the campaign, saying it had reached a vast number of people and sparked a rise in applications.
Superintendent Tracey Quiller said: “Kent Police’s ‘More Than The Badge’ recruitment campaign was launched in March 2018 and has reached over 2.5 million people via social media alone.
“It has seen in excess of 800 applications received from people keen to join the force.
“The campaign is designed to show the wide variety of challenges police officers face on a daily basis and while all advertising is open to interpretation, Kent Police hopes those keen to join the force will be able to understand the campaign’s sentiment.
“There has never been a better time to join a police force that has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Independent Police Inspectorate.”
The campaign is due to run throughout the year.