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Cop slams police recruitment ad focusing on tattoos as 'embarrassing', 'cringe-worthy'

A police officer has slammed his organisations latest recruitment advert, Ink Beneath the Blue, which tells the stories of New Zealand cops' tattoos, as "cringe-worthy" and "flawed".

Constable Nathan Atkins, of Waimate in South Canterbury, wrote a letter, published in November's issue of Police News, where he calls the ad "embarrassing for our organisation".

"What is it about having ink on one's skin that acts as a recommendation or achievement, or even credit to oneself? Nothing at all," he wrote.

"This is cringe worthy and short-sighted. Stories of officers who overcame physical adversity during their recruitment might be more inspirational than stories about people who drew on themselves."

He suggested highlighting stories such as an officer who lost a significant amount of weight or someone who overcame an injury.

"A broader appeal than 'look at me' attention-seeking behaviour," Mr Atkins criticised, fearing public backlash from the advert.

"Our primary focus as officers is looking out to those around us – our colleagues, our communities and our nation. Showing others bettering themselves in response to a challenge encourages that focus; showing people talking about themselves having essentially done nothing much is introspective, insular and unimaginative."

However, New Zealand Police deputy chief executive of media and communications Jane Archibald responded to the letter saying some of the stories featured in the ad did include hurdles overcome by officers.

She added that there had been "an unprecedented response" from staff wanting to be a part of the campaign which was about "bringing the unique you to work every day".

"The campaign profiles our staff and their tattoos, which reflect their culture, their personal stories, their quirks and what makes them unique.

"They bring that background to their work and the campaign looks at how their personal experiences make them more empathetic and enable positive engagement with the community."

Ms Archibald also said New Zealand was one of the most heavily tattooed countries in the world, and the majority of new police recruits had tattoos, yet one of the most commonly asked questions from recruitment teams were whether or not they were allowed in the force.

"We respect that not everyone likes tattoos or wants to get one, nor do you need to have one in order to apply to become a police officer," Ms Archibald said.

"It is just one way of telling the stories about the uniqueness of each staff member behind the uniform and we hope it will encourage others to sign up for a great career with the NZ Police."

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The new recruitment video sees police officers tell the stories behind their tattoos. Source: Supplied