Police and Public Relation by unique76


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									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

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

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

      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.

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