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Time and cost of qualification leading to detective shortages, rep says

Thames Valley Fed blames accreditation changes for a shortfall of investigators
Published - 19/08/2016 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

A Fed branch chairman claims that national changes to detective training have contributed to shortages at his force.

Thames Valley Police’s Graham Smith says that costs associated with passing the professionalising investigation programme put people off the role.

He said: “You have to invest your own money into becoming a detective as well as your own time into becoming a detective. But often police officers do not really have that time or money to invest.”

Mr Smith added that the College of Policing-set exam element of the training also puts off some potential candidates because not everyone who makes a good investigator is good at taking written tests.

“My argument is that that short changes the public, because policing is about gaining experience, policing is about doing that job face to face with the public in their day to day business, it is about being able to put those experiences gained over years into practice – especially when you are investigating serious offences, as most detectives do,” he said.

PIP was introduced following the Police Reform Act 2002, and revised by the College of Policing in 2014.

The College wants to establish a system for accrediting undercover units in future, and Chief Executive Alex Marshall says he would like a license to practise to be established for those serving in other areas such as public protection.

Jo Taylor, Policing Standards Manager for Investigation at the organisation, said: “The aim of the programme is to ensure that officers and staff are trained, skilled and accredited to conduct the highest quality investigations, which the public expect.

“The seriousness of these investigations means we want to give police the best training possible to cover the vast range of offences they deal with from burglary and street robbery to critical incidents and murder.

“Local forces nominate and book candidates for the exam and costs are usually met by the force.

“It is a local decision whether those costs are passed onto the candidate and we are not aware of similar complaints from other forces.”

Thames Valley Police say their situation is not different from many other forces.

Senior officers in the Met Police have appealed to government to allow them to pay extra bonuses to detectives, because of the shortage at the force, but this has been refused.

The force does pay towards officers taking the PIP.

Vice chairman of the Met Police Federation Emma Owens said she thinks the main issue is the undesirable workload potential detectives know they will face.

“People see CID on boroughs and serious crime teams and think they’re working all the time and never get to go home,” she told PoliceOracle.com.

The UK’s largest force is considering a number of other initiatives to help boost detective numbers, including using specials as detectives and putting probationers straight into such roles.

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter said his force is having difficulty recruiting as a result of a reorganisation.

“We moved to a different model of policing which put highly qualified detectives into using their skills for low level matters,” he said, but added that he knows the force is now taking steps to change this.

The Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “Although the issue is wider than Thames Valley Police alone, the force is working to identify any barriers to recruitment and to drive a more proactive approach.

“As part of this, a voluntary online survey has been produced for the rank of constable to complete, and this will help us to understand whether this is a recruitment/attraction issue or a retention issue and will help to inform recommendations to implement.

“In the meantime the force is making the best use of resources in order to cope with the current level of cases."

He added that the force pays for the cost of sitting the national investigators examination element of PIP a maximum of two times.

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