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Faster recruitment at heart of strategy to boost detective numbers

Kent Police to fast track recruits to non-uniform roles after 12 months
Published - 04/05/2018 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

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.

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