In the age of rapid development of communication technology, when geographical distances are practically no longer felt, direct communication with different sorts of public is still one of the basic conditions for long term successful and efficient operation of any social subject, especially one like the police, which is constantly under the critical public eye. Public relations are an inseparable part of police work. The police keeps the public informed about matters from its sphere of activity, unless by doing so it would prejudice its own work or justified benefits of others. By the indirect relation that takes place through the mass media, the police endeavours to enhance the quality and extent of information it daily communicates to the journalists, stimulating preventive activity of the mass media and coverage of topics that are important for the citizens from the security point of view. Police officers are increasingly aware of the fact that in order to successfully perform the work, a culture of communication is a necessary component of their professionalism and expertise. In this context education and training have an increasingly important role. However, despite an established system of education and training of police officers, the real learning begins only when one is faced with the real pulse of the life in the streets, roads, cities ... Only in direct contact with people and problems, which this profession brings along, police officers are able to evaluate their knowledge and acquired skills. They may not always be successful in everyday relations with various people or in various situations, and perhaps they might be less tactful on a particular day ... This is why initiatives, suggestions and complaints made by the public concerning the work, measures taken or conduct of police officers are a component part of the police profession. The police accepts them and takes them into account as a form of control by the public over its work and as a commitment for even greater professionalism in performing its tasks. What actually represents police public relations? There are more and more different groups of people and police officers have to establish a specific relation with everyone of them. They deal with different people, which is why they need to adopt different approaches; those violating the law will certainly have a different opinion of the police from those who do not violate the law. Furthermore, sorts of public are becoming increasingly diversified in the modern society, and the police is accountable for its actions and measures taken to all of them and has to establish relations and endeavour for long term co-operation with all of them. In creating such positive communication, police public relations play an especially important role. In police public relations we act on the basis of the law. The first element defining our work is the right to be informed and to have access to information of public nature, which belongs among the basic human rights. It is defined more in detail in the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia (Article 39: "Freedom of expression of thought, freedom of speech and freedom to associate in public, together with freedom of the press and of other forms of public communication and expression, shall be guaranteed. Each person may freely collect, receive and circulate information and opinions. Except in such circumstances as are laid down by statute, each person shall have the right to obtain information of a public nature, provided he can show sufficient legal interest as determined by statute.") and in the Act on Mass Media (Article 45 defines the obligation of all state bodies, bodies of the local communities, individuals performing public function, public institutions and public enterprises as well as all other persons performing public service to give timely, complete and true information to questions from their sphere of activity. The mentioned subjects also have to make sure that public nature of their work is ensured. Giving information can only be refused when the information is marked in the prescribed way with a certain degree of confidentiality or if it would represent a violation of the protection of personal data or be detrimental to the judicial or pre-penal procedure), whereas the basic principles and ways of ensuring public nature of the work of the government and its institutions are defined also in some international instruments and regulations. As the police is a specific state body, it also has its own law, the Police Act, which, beside other police tasks, also governs the field of communication, in Article 6 ("General Police Directorate is responsible for making sure that competent state bodies and the public are informed about police work, relevant security matters and security conditions") and in Article 22 ("The police informs the public of matters from its sphere of activity unless doing so would prejudice its work or justified benefits of others"). The Police Act also stipulates that the data and information on the performance of such tasks are given by the Direc tor General of the Police or another authorised person. In the police we also adopted two internal instruments regulating the field of communication, namely the Directions of the police for work in the field of public relations and Directions for communications of the police with the public in situations of crisis and conflict. In the General Police Directorate there is a representative of the police for public relations, who is authorised for communication with the public. He advises, together with his colleagues, to all the professional services on how to act in this field. Each of the eleven Regional Police Directorates has a representative in charge of communication with the public as well. What do we do in police public relations? In public relations our basic task and objective is to enhance the quality of police co- operation with the public, especially with journalists and the mass media, and to start using as diversified, innovative and at the same time kind forms of such co-operation as possible. We dedicate most of our attention and specific activities to the performance of permanent tasks, but also to the performance of tasks that are dictated to us by the current situation and co-ordination of activities in the field of communication of the Police Directorates with the public. Permanent tasks in police public relations at the level of the General Police Directorate are: keeping track analytically of the coverage of the police and its representatives in the media, keeping track of and analysing the public opinion, elaboration of a monthly plan of media related activities for the General Police Directorate and of specific plans for the requirements of the operative services, everyday reporting to the public through the mass media about the more important security events, managing the police website. Apart from the permanent tasks in the field of police public relations we also perform other tasks that fall within our competence: we organise press conferences, briefings and photo sessions on various topics in the police field, we write press releases, notices and information for the public, we reply to written requests and questions made by journalists (we organise interviews, communicate data, clarifications and commentaries). In police public relations we also deny published items as well as give clarifications and corrections of the items and articles published in various mass media. We communicate with the internal public on a daily basis - with different professional services which we ask for clarifications, notices, comments or proposals, we help them, advise them, etc. We improve our communication with the internal public also by issuing the monthly internal magazine Varnost. We also answer to requests and questions that are communicated to us by the citizens in writing (by mail or by e-mail) and we answer on a daily basis to telephone calls of the citizens who ask, complain, comment or require various pieces of information. We participate in various projects, both with the professional services of the police and with external governmental and non-governmental institutions, contributing to a better reputation of the Slovenian police in the public and bringing police work closer to various specific sorts of the public. ic.
Pages to are hidden for
"Police and Public Relation"Please download to view full document