DORSET’S police cars could carry adverts in the future in an effort to boost funds for the cash-strapped force.

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for the county, which has the lowest-funded force in the country, said yesterday that he was continuing to lobby the government for extra money, but would consider sponsorship deals with “reputable organisations”.

But some have urged caution over the move.

Mr Underhill said that he had already spoken to a possible sponsor.

He said ideas could include adverts on police cars, website links or plugs on Twitter and that there was “huge potential” in sponsorship, but it would be long-term.

He added: “This will help us to plan and sustain projects that might otherwise not have been possible due to the ongoing financial constraints.”

The commissioner stressed neither he nor the force would allow operations to be dependent on or influenced by sponsorship.

“It will never compromise the Chief Constable’s auth-ority or my commissioning powers.

“Sponsorship is to provide an opportunity for Dorset Police and myself to work in partnership with communities towards a common goal,” he said.

He added that supporters of his election campaign would not be considered, nor anyone who provided services linked to police work.

Mr Underhill added: “Sponsor- ship is the x-factor. If it’s an audited, transparent, selection process, why shouldn’t you use it to put more police officers on the streets?”

Clive Chamberlain, right, chairman of Dorset Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “I would hope that all Dorset Members of Parliament will join with the Police and Crime Commissioner in fighting for fairer funding for Dorset Police.

“The issue of sponsorship is not new to the police service and any such arrangements are subject to rigorous parameters.”

He said sponsorship was limited to one per cent of the force’s annual income, for example.

Annette Brooke, left, Lib Dem MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, said: “I think it’s something I would be cautious about, but I think looking at it very carefully there may be some potential. I would be very wary about conflicts.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that it does have to be considered but all budgets are tight.”

Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood, said: “The pressures facing all constabularies are significant, but there are a lot of savings to be made by the police as a whole.

“There are avenues that are worth pursuing before we venture down the route of sponsorship.

“I think the public would be concerned about the independence of the police force.”

Conor Burns, Bournemouth West MP, said it was vital the police stayed independent and unencumbered by any commercial interest, but added: “There are things that the police do that they should be able to commercialise.

“For example, driving courses that you can pay to go on when you break the speed limit instead of taking penalty points could be extended to companies that want to send people on them voluntarily.”