Police Advertising Scam

Emergency Services Publications Scams

As well as producing publications with charitable themes, lots of support publishing firms produce publications that are themed by the work of the emergency services. These unofficial publications usually contain very brief articles that explain the basic roles and duties of officers that work in the emergency services. The themes of these publications tend to focus on the three main public services that are the police, fire and ambulance services.

More often than not, these publications are not official or endorsed by a particular department of the police, fire or ambulance service. Support publishing firms exploit a loophole in the law that allows publishers to produce literature that publicizes the role and responsibilities of the emergency services. When these firms are asked why they publish this type of literature, they will usually claim that they do this to raise public awareness regarding the vital role of the emergency services.

The actual reason why support publishing firms produce this type of literature is so that they can generate vast sums of revenue by deceptively approaching businesses through unsolicited sales calls to sponsor advertising space available in these publications on the pretence that their firm is officially raising money for the police, fire or ambulance service (depending on the chosen theme of their in-house publication). These publications are usually fronted and riddled throughout with images of emergency services officers carrying out their duties. This could be an image of a police officer assisting a member of the public on the high street or a fire fighter in action distinguishing a building that is on fire.

These types of publications usually contain very few articles. More often than not, support publishing firms will simply reproduce government statistics such as crime figures and the number of ambulance call outs in a particular year from government websites and insert this data in to their publications. Many businesses that TAPA speaks to were not aware that these publications were not authentic even after receiving them because the images contained on the front cover and throughout the publication left them under the impression that the publication had been officially endorsed.

Support publishing firms intend for these publications to appear authentic and published on behalf of an official department within the public services so that the businesses they approach will believe that monies they pay will be channelled to front line emergency services. This powerful and devious selling technique amasses millions of pounds in turnover for the support publishing industry every year.

Unscrupulous firms will even instruct their sales representatives to fraudulently claim to be police officers or ambulance personnel themselves undertaking charity work voluntarily whilst off duty etc to help raise money for their department. Examples of these types of publications that publishing firms will title them include;


Police Diary

Police Handbook

Police Magazine

They will also produce publications such as Ambulance wallplanners, Fire Service year calendars, crime prevention magazines and emergency services wallplanners. Although the large majority of support publishing firms are based in Manchester and Liverpool, the vast majority of these types of publications tend to be produced by the Merseyside based traders. Manchester based support publishing firms tend to produce the charity themed publications.



If you have been approached by a support publishing firm requesting sponsorship of an emergency services publication and are concerned as to the authenticity of the firm, you should initially request the contact details of the particular department of the emergency services the firm claims to be endorsed by to produce publications on their behalf and contact the department to seek clarification of their claims.

You should only enter in to a transaction with a support publishing firm at which time you are completely satisfied that any commercial arrangement they claim to have with a department of the emergency services is genuine. Even if there is a licensed endorsement to the firm, make sure you clarify how much the department receives from the advertising revenue so that you are fully aware of where your money is going. If you do not feel completely comfortable with the situation, you should not proceed any further with the transaction.

If you have already paid money to a support publishing firm and have concerns regarding the authenticity of the firm or are not being given the information you have requested from the firm or are not satisfied that your concerns have been dealt with accordingly, you can contact The Advertising Protection Agency and one of our representatives will be able to assist you further. TAPA can be contacted on 0800 773 4894 or alternatively by using the email link below. You may wish to also browse our ‘Useful Links’ section for details of regulatory bodies that will also be able to provide you with further assistance.