NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police has spent more than Rs 82 crore on advertising and publicity in various platforms like print, radio, television and social media over the last two-and-half years. This has been revealed by the Delhi Police in an RTI reply filed by The Sunday Guardian.
According to the reply from the Delhi Police, between January 2019 and July 2022, the Delhi Police has spent eighty-two crores, twenty-four lakhs, fifty-one thousand, seven hundred and ninety-four rupees, (Rs 82,24,51,794); this translates to an amount of over Rs 2.6 crore being spent every month for advertising and publicity by the publicity department of the Delhi Police.
The RTI reply further revealed that the advertising and publicity budget of the Delhi police has been reduced significantly since the financial year 2021-2022, as against Rs 38 crore allotted for advertising and publicity for the Delhi Police during the financial year 2019-2020; the budget for the same was reduced to just Rs 19 crore during the financial year 2020-2021, while the advertising and publicity budget of the Delhi police was slightly increased by about Rs 10 crore in 2021-2022 when the police force of the national capital has spent over Rs 28 crore.
As per the RTI reply, the Delhi Police has spent the highest amount of money for advertising and publicity between April 2019 and December 2019, which went upwards of Rs 31 crore, which means that it spent about Rs 4.4 core each month on advertising.
It is pertinent to mention here that it was the same period when the Delhi Police witnessed an unprecedented protest by its lower rung officers against their own senior officers of the Delhi Police outside the Delhi Police headquarters in ITO, making a major dent on the image of the Delhi police and which also created a negative perception of the police force among the general public of the national capital.
2019 also witnessed another disturbing incident where police personnel clashed with lawyers of Delhi’s Tis Hazari court and made headlines. This incident had lowered the morale of the police force which needed to make correction in the perception of the force, both among the common public as well as its own personnel. That same year, not only Delhi Police, but also other parts of the country witnessed widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act which was passed in the Parliament and the police in Delhi needed to inform the public with the right and correct information about incidents and situations in Delhi.
A Delhi Police senior officer told The Sunday Guardian, “Advertisement and publicity is done by every department of the government and for Delhi Police, advertisement is an integral part of policing where we need to make the public aware of route changes, missing persons, wanted criminals, amongst many other things. Publicity of the police force is also important so that people feel at ease when connecting with their local cops. The money is spent on public awareness campaigns, advertorials on various announcements, among multiple other things.”
The Delhi Police since last year has also roped in an external agency to manage its social media accounts, which includes Twitter, Facebook as well as its YouTube channel, where the police posts important updates. The need to have a specialised social media agency was necessitated after the Delhi riots of 2020 when the police was left scratching its head over sporadic violence and protests being discussed and planned on social media groups and platforms.
The proposal to hire a professional external agency to tap such information and to improve the image of the Delhi Police was presented to the then Police Commissioner S.N. Shrivastava by the Special Branch of the Delhi Police.
The proposal was accepted and it was during the tenure of Rakesh Asthana as the Commissioner of Delhi Police that the police started to focus heavily on its image makeover.