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Detective shortage leads forces to target January blues for recruits

Forces have launched a fresh drive to recruit more detectives to make up for a shortfall in the senior ranks.
Published - 12/01/2021 By - Chris Smith

Forces across the country have used the traditional January window when people consider career changes to launch recruitment drives for detective roles.

Two approaches are being made; tempting current officers to move forces or going to the wider public for direct entry training through fast-track programmes.

Cheshire Constabulary is among those to opt for the fast track approach, for the first time, enabling new recruits to opt for the role of trainee detective constable. The force is opening the opportunity for the Uplift trainees that are part of the national recruitment programme.

Head of Crime in Cheshire, Assistant Chief Constable Matt Burton, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the force to bring in a diverse and talented group of people, who can bring their unique life skills to the role to help make Cheshire safer.”

The option is being taken in a bid to reduce the national shortage of detectives which has been flagged as a cause for concern by both the Police Federation and HM Inspectorate.

The Met has also taken up this option and has begun promoting its Detective Career Pathway scheme

It explained how the two-year Detective Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) will work: “You will spend the majority of your time on the frontline, learning alongside experienced officers.

“Unlike more traditional qualifications, the DHEP is a vocational course that focuses on practical learning and is specifically tailored for a career in policing ultimately leading to a graduate diploma in Professional Policing Practice. All learning and operational deployments on the Detective pathway are contextualised and relevant to an investigative context.”

Other forces have used the January blues as an opportunity to entice officers from other forces to transfer so they can achieve promotion faster.

Merseyside Police has opened the doors for serving constables. Applications are welcomed from substantive Constables and Detective constables who have operational experience in the investigation of serious and organised crime. Applicants who do not current possess ICIDP/PIP2 accreditation must be willing to work towards this.  

“We are welcoming transfer applications from officers who want to further their career with our force,” Merseyside said.

The attempt to recruit for the specialist roles is being driven by the long-standing shortage of officers. The Police Federation's National Detectives Forum estimated in September last year that there are 5,000 vacant investigator posts across all forces in the UK.

Stress and long hours, as well as cuts in manpower during the austerity era, are blamed by police leaders.

Steve Kent, Chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation, said: "Our force was one of the hardest-hit by austerity. We went from 3,400 officers down to 2,500. The force has introduced a rotation system that hasn’t gone down well, and a £2,000 bonus for hard to fill posts, such as in the Protecting Vulnerable People area.

"So, the force does seem to be trying to recruit more detectives but of course the situation will take a long time to turn around.”

A knock-on effect from the squeeze on manpower has been the lack of time for serving officers to be able to study and revise for the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) exam.

A Trainee Detective from Nottinghamshire shared her experiences in training to become a detective in a blog for the force’s Federation.

“I felt moving to CID would give me the chance to learn ne

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