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Make detective work attractive again to stop numbers decline, says forum head

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HMIC has raised red flag over the issue.

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Working as a detective needs to be restored as an attractive proposition again if chiefs want to address the national crisis in investigation skills, the chairman of the Police Federation National Detectives' Forum believes.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently warned that there is a critical shortage of investigators in many forces.

Martin Plummer, who is also chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, told PoliceOracle.com: “It’s frustrating when you get the HMIC stating the obvious that we have been saying for a considerable length of time.

“[But] it’s a very simple equation, if you have 10 people on a team carrying a workload and you reduce that down to six and you increase that workload and something, somewhere is going to give.

“We’re now seeing ridiculous workloads, detectives trying to spin so many plates while everything is combusting around them, there’s no financial backing for protracted inquiries.

“We still investigate the most serious crimes, still deal with the worst criminals, the burden of proof in courts rightly remains as high as it ever was. But detectives are increasingly being told 'sorry you haven’t got the time to do that', 'sorry we haven’t got the budget', or 'something else has come up and there’s simply no one else to do it'.”

He said the days of most officers wanting to become detectives were long gone, with what he calls “the hardest job in policing” becoming one which people know they will be under increasing pressure from management, as well as CPS, other partners and potentially the IPCC.

In its report, HMIC identified the excessive workloads of those remaining in detective roles as a problem for policing.

Chiefs have asked the independent remuneration body to allow them to give specialist bonuses to detectives in order to address the issue.

The Met’s submission to the body states: “We know that monetary reward is not the only lever available but to have no reward options to attract officers into a particular career path remains deeply problematic, particularly as the operational structure becomes flatter with decreased opportunity for rank progression.”

Mr Plummer says he would support extra payments, but points out that the issue is not primarily about personal finances.

“The way you can solve this is simply that you need a career as a detective to become once again popular and attractive,” he said.

“If you look back to the day where we had a mainstream CID that mainstream CID had their specialisms, they weren’t asking for extra payments for added responsibility they loved what they did. They had the time and resources to get the results.

“Where we are now is that the good will has been eroded over the years. Detectives saying they’re not prepared to take on extra cases I’ve got the IPCC knocking on the door, victims, witnesses wanting to know how their cases are going, the CPS wanting things done yesterday. The support and backing is not there.

“I’m not saying they want a pat on the back, what detectives have always wanted is to bring criminals to justice,” he added.

Responding to the HMIC report, the NPCC pointed out that having 32,334 fewer officers and a 22 per cent budget cut had been difficult as crime “changes”.

National lead for crime operations CC Mike Barton said: “Difficult decisions are being made between resourcing neighbourhood teams, response units, specialist investigations, and digital and cyber-enabled crime. 

“Police chiefs around the country will be looking at their local assessment to consider the impact of resourcing decisions, which may have been hidden from view.”

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'Hardest job in policing.'

It's very tough, granted, but due to the CID crisis most response teams are now at similar breaking point with caseloads with the obvious extra strain of being tied to a radio and 999 calls.

Demand currently dictates that wherever you shift the resources they are going to be over worked - increase the CID teams taking officers from response and they (CID) will have to take on more crimes. The only answer is more boots on the ground.

Most forces now have a crime allocation policy which has all but the most specialist offences falling to uniformed officers who are not detectives or PIP level 2 and really don't have the time to do their caseload justice.

I am carrying around half the number of crimes in Kent as a response officer that the CID on Merseyside used to carry - but due to response duties I only have around a fifth of the time at most to actually deal with those offences. Throw in shift work which drags out enquiries over many weeks and we have the crisis point.

Cue HMIC popping their heads in to state the bleeding obvious and tell us uniformed investigators that our investigations aren't as good as CID!

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The true depth of being a DC isn't just the number of CR's on your case load though. If that were the case I'd be sat around tossing it off half the time because I'm carrying the same number of jobs that I did in response, roughly.

It's the level and scope of the crimes. You've got all manner of things to consider and justify doing or not doing over a more straightforward crime. Suspects and victims all over the country or even abroad, complex suspect interviews or ABE interviews that can last hours and run into days. I spent two days last week doing house to house for a robbery where I'd have spent an hour at most on response because the stakes are higher now and results are demanded of me. There's no quick outcome 18's!

There's sitting and going through hundreds of thousands of messages, photos and videos looking for that one thing that will get CPS to authorise a charge.

Don't get me wrong, response is equally as challenging in a different way. Indeed I left response to be a DC because I was failing my victims by not being allowed time to deal with their crimes effectively and I didn't like it. But CID deserves a small extra payment just for the sheer fact that you can be called in on any day off to deal with a prisoner you've circulated or because CPS have an "urgent" enquiry for you and you're pretty much compelled to go on and do it.

There are many other skills that require extra remuneration as well like being a tutor and in time I'm sure there will be a case for that too.

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4 hours ago, Prae said:

Don't get me wrong, response is equally as challenging in a different way. Indeed I left response to be a DC because I was failing my victims by not being allowed time to deal with their crimes effectively and I didn't like it. But CID deserves a small extra payment just for the sheer fact that you can be called in on any day off to deal with a prisoner you've circulated or because CPS have an "urgent" enquiry for you and you're pretty much compelled to go on and do it.

There are many other skills that require extra remuneration as well like being a tutor and in time I'm sure there will be a case for that too.

If you get recalled to duty like that then you must be compensated by payment and time due etc.

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21 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

If you get recalled to duty like that then you must be compensated by payment and time due etc.

Time which you'll never get to take because it's too busy, so you save it all up and then finish 6 months before your actual retirement date with it all accrued.
Most people I know would rather have a more managable workload and less intrusion into their personal lives than the compensation.

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The compensation is meant to deter them from the practice. It deters them more if after the appropriate period when you could not take the time due you insist, by regulations, that they pay you for it. Or when you take A.L. tag on, in the middle of the leave, several days which are owing to you. The recall to duty is one of the most abused by management. It really means that they are incapable of managing.

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If you get recalled to duty like that then you must be compensated by payment and time due etc.

You do get paid for it but you don't get paid for the ear ache from the wife or lost time with the kids.
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Less money for what I would say is a specialist role (20% unsocial allowance), no overtime, pointless requests from CPS and ridiculous case load (Met Police) no wonder they are 700 short. I will just drive from job to job and go home with nothing to worry about at the end, much easier.


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And there's also the fact you have to buy your own smart gear instead of free uniform which has probably cost me £600 this year alone.


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6 minutes ago, Prae said:

And there's also the fact you have to buy your own smart gear instead of free uniform which has probably cost me £600 this year alone.


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What have you spent £600 on? Armani suits.

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What have you spent £600 on? Armani suits.

You'd struggle to get a single trouser leg from Armani for £600!

Shirts, trousers, jackets, ties, cuff links and shoes. Soon adds up!

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37 minutes ago, Prae said:


You'd struggle to get a single trouser leg from Armani for £600!

Shirts, trousers, jackets, ties, cuff links and shoes. Soon adds up!

Jesus I must be buying mine too cheaply. 

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1 hour ago, NCFPA said:

Less money for what I would say is a specialist role (20% unsocial allowance), no overtime, pointless requests from CPS and ridiculous case load (Met Police) no wonder they are 700 short. I will just drive from job to job and go home with nothing to worry about at the end, much easier.


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Ok I' m on response so I do get the anti social allowance (but working shifts has its problems) however I don't get overtime either, I  get pointless requests from CPS as well and I do have a ridiculous workload (up to 20 crimes) to manage as well as respond. Worst of all I have jobs that should sit with CID (child porn /burgs/ complex frauds etc) but they "don't have capacity" (have I?).

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Ok I' m on response so I do get the anti social allowance (but working shifts has its problems) however I don't get overtime either, I  get pointless requests from CPS as well and I do have a ridiculous workload (up to 20 crimes) to manage as well as respond. Worst of all I have jobs that should sit with CID (child porn /burgs/ complex frauds etc) but they "don't have capacity" (have I?).


Apologies my post was more of a reference to the Met which has its own detective recruitment and workload issues. It would appear your a response officer in the counties who pretty much carry everything ?


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9 hours ago, Prae said:

The true depth of being a DC isn't just the number of CR's on your case load though. If that were the case I'd be sat around tossing it off half the time because I'm carrying the same number of jobs that I did in response, roughly.

It's the level and scope of the crimes. You've got all manner of things to consider and justify doing or not doing over a more straightforward crime. Suspects and victims all over the country or even abroad, complex suspect interviews or ABE interviews that can last hours and run into days. I spent two days last week doing house to house for a robbery where I'd have spent an hour at most on response because the stakes are higher now and results are demanded of me. There's no quick outcome 18's!

There's sitting and going through hundreds of thousands of messages, photos and videos looking for that one thing that will get CPS to authorise a charge.

Don't get me wrong, response is equally as challenging in a different way. Indeed I left response to be a DC because I was failing my victims by not being allowed time to deal with their crimes effectively and I didn't like it. But CID deserves a small extra payment just for the sheer fact that you can be called in on any day off to deal with a prisoner you've circulated or because CPS have an "urgent" enquiry for you and you're pretty much compelled to go on and do it.

There are many other skills that require extra remuneration as well like being a tutor and in time I'm sure there will be a case for that too.

Agree with your post, but I am biased. 

The investigations are complex and mental draining quite often for prolong periods of time, indecent image jobs and the like take a mental toll that is equal if not more impactive than dealing with physical trauma. Something that is often overlooked.  ABE's of victims is often psychologically  more demanding and you are almost forced to relive the events of that victim, especially if you are the SOIT. No such thing as a day off if you are a SOIT. 

If the Police want specialist officers, there should be specialist pay. 

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