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Faster recruitment at heart of strategy to boost detective numbers


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Kent Police to fast track recruits to non-uniform roles after 12 months.

Faster recruitment at heart of strategy to boost detective numbers

Reforms to recruitment, shift patterns and exams are being looked as part of moves to stabilise declining detective numbers.

Last week another force opened a “fast track” detective recruitment scheme in a bid to boost numbers.

Kent Police opened recruitment for what it calls "Investigate First" – a scheme where trainees spend one year on regular probation and in uniform before switching to detective work.

It also emerged that Essex Police’s new recruitment drive which the force initially advertised as recruitment “direct to detectives”, telling the public they would have the opportunity to “step straight into the world of our detectives”, also incorporates one-year training in uniform prior to the switch to criminal investigation.

They join forces including Hampshire, Suffolk and Thames Valley in taking on similar schemes. The Met is currently the only force where there is no time at all spent in uniform prior to becoming a detective, though City of London Police are looking at following their lead.

Across England and Wales there is an estimated 22 per cent lack of detective capability, with 4,800 investigator roles vacant.

Chiefs asked the College of Policing to carry out a “prioritised” independent evaluation of direct entry to detective, early streaming to detective and police staff investigator programmes.

A spokesman said: “The College is continuing to work with the national policing lead and the investigative entry working group to evaluate the impact of the various force recruitment schemes to ensure they use the most appropriate approach to meet their operational needs and priorities.”

Karen Stephens, detectives lead at the Police Federation, says direct entry detective schemes are “unfair” on the participants if they don’t have any training in uniform before taking, and possibly failing, their national investigators exam (NIE).

“Fast-track streaming at least has some street experience. I’m not 100 per cent in favour but at least if you fail you can go to uniform.”

Other measures discussed by chiefs include a reform of CID shift patterns.

Chief Constable Matt Jukes told an NPCC meeting earlier this year: “Shift patterns for CID and investigators are often more detrimental to home life as they have fewer rest days than response officers.

“Furthermore, they have more enforced overtime to work as they don’t always have officers booking on duty at the end of their shift that they can hand over investigations to.”

He noted that “some forces” are reviewing detective shift patterns to help with this.

Ms Stephens told Police Oracle: “It is an issue but it’s not just about rest days. In CID you don’t know when you’re going to finish, you can start at 8am and expect to finish at 5pm but if a job comes in at 3pm you can’t hand it over to anyone. In uniform you can hand over to the next shift.

“It comes down to resources, if you’re fully staffed people aren’t so over-stretched.”

Elsewhere CC Jukes noted that there have been complaints about the varying levels of support to pass the national investigators exam in different forces.

The exam is to be reviewed as part of the College of Policing’s education framework, and nationally recommended policies for support may be introduced.

Vuiew On Police Oracle

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Seems like at least a side-effect of the fast-track stuff is that it addresses the concerns that have been voiced about direct entry.

I do wonder whether the conversation ought to be about a recruitment process failure. 

Aren't conditions within the detective side of the job more to blame for the shortage?

Not to say this isn't worth doing, or is doomed to fail, but I don't know if it's attempting to fix a symptom rather than an underlying cause; although looking at shift patterns sounds like a step in the right direction.

Edited by Corpsehand
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I can’t help thinking this is a bad idea and a “sticking plaster” policy in an attempt to solve a national shortage of detectives.


I joined the police because I wanted to be a cop. I knew that I would be working unsocial hours, bank holidays, that I may have to sacrifice personal commitments and even relationships. What I’m trying to say is that I knew what I was getting myself into. Also I didn’t have my career mapped out before I joined. I’m currently in a role that I never knew existed prior to joining. It’s time response policing was seen as a specialism and not you have to do for the minimal amount of time before moving on.


I don’t think it’s acceptable to say to prospective officers that you’ll only have to do a year in uniform before moving into an office. Some of the best DC’s are those that have spent a long time in uniform. Are we seriously saying that within a year you will have enough experience to move to a specialist role. The public want visible officers, not officers behind desks. We can not investigate our way out of the country rise in crime and murders. The saying “prevention is better than cure” springs to mind.


Why do we need more detectives? Because the government has cut officer numbers, workload has increased and even the simplest crimes now are becoming complex. Taking officers off the street and into CID is not the answer. Addressing the problem would be a start.


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Is working unpaid overtime - not counting the normal half an hour to the queen yadayada- a common thing for DCs? Or coming in a good hour early without being paid etc? Or are these just horror myths I heard

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You cannot teach experience, you acquire  it over a period of time and, as I have said before, you are still gaining that experience and learning on the days up to retirement.

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Cuts of thousands of officers over the past few years is bound to cut down on the available pool of potential detectives looking to transfer over, isn't it?

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