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Home Office bankrolls plastic plod 'documentaries'

The Ministry of Reality TV presents:

Ofcom is probing Home Office sponsorship of an ITV "documentary" on police community support officers.

The broadcasting regulator has yet to launch a formal investigation, sort of like the PCSOs themselves.

The Home Office paid £800,000 to sponsor two series of Beat: Life on the Street about police community support officers - or 'plastic plods'. Ministers are so pleased with results that they are paying for a third series.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom confirmed the regulator was "looking at the relationship between sponsor and broadcaster". The government has sponsored eight programmes in the last five years at a cost of £2m, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Other programmes paid for by the government include a film about a team of soldiers climbing Everest.

Home Office officials were directly involved in the making of the programme and viewed a second edit of the show. The government is also sponsoring an upcoming Sky series on the UK Border Agency called Border Force.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Documentaries of this nature play an important role in informing the public, openly and transparently, about the work of the police and UK Border Agency. Beat, Life on the Street shows the work of neighbourhood policing teams in tackling crime, dealing with anti social behaviour and engaging with local communities. Border Force reveals the difficult immigration and customs work carried out by the Agency on a daily basis, in order to protect our borders and prevent illegal immigration and drugs trafficking.

“The Home Office do not influence the content of these programmes after they are commissioned and they adhere to Ofcom’s strict guidelines on this kind of programme.”

Feel free to add your own suggestions for government sponsorship of TV programmes.

Perhaps the Treasury should pay for a new series of Sarah Beeny's Property Ladder in order to sort out the UK housing market.

It might also want to consider our pitch for "Darling" a hard-hitting docudrama about a maverick chancellor who sometimes has to break the golden rules, when he's told to by the bloke next door.

And Gordon Brown should dig deep to pay for a new interpretation of the Ides of March August. ®

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