Forces urged to invest in detectives to avert 'national crisis'
High workloads, increasing complexity and a negative impact on work life balance are some of the key reasons the once highly-sought-after role of detective has lost its appeal, delegates at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales have been told.
The topic was discussed during a session titled ‘Investing in Investigators’ on day two of the conference, hosted by Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation National Detectives Forum.
Thames Valley Police Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for investigator resilience, said that in addition, some officers are also faced with a £1,200 pay cut to move from response to a detective role.
A 2017 report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found 22 per cent of detective posts were vacant and described the situation as a “national crisis”.
Mr Hogg said: “We’ve done a great deal of work through the recruitment and retention of investigators working group in overseeing the development of new specialist routes. Every force has a developed action plan for consideration by HMICFRS and we’ve encouraged forces to provide target bonus payments. A number are doing these bonuses very well.”
Mr Hogg has developed a national staff bank pilot in Wales, where retired officers are brought in to tackle non-recent investigations. This is “working really well” and should be rolled out nationally.
His own force, Thames Valley Police, consistently had 50 detective vacancies and now has three. Mr Hogg talked about the work that was done in promoting the detective role and covering the costs of books for officers studying and giving time off – plus a bonus payment.
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Brunning, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire tri-force collaboration also took part in the session and said the launch of the Oscar Kilo Toolkit later this month could be transformative in terms of improving the emotional wellbeing of detectives and stop them leaving.
“This is not a one size fits all or a token gesture,” he said “It’s got real substance as it comes from group of people who have been through the pain of having colleagues crashing and burning.”
The session also touched on flexible working as one of the factors which had made the difference to recruitment and retention of detectives in Thames Valley. “It is absolutely worth it,” said Mr Hogg. “We promoted flexi working and job sharing. This is one of the reasons we have more than 50 per cent women applying for our roles.”