Graduates to become police detectives in 12 weeks in bid to tackle major shortage

Watchdog warns the dearth of investigative staff amounts to a 'national crisis'

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 12 June 2018 10:37 BST
Cressida Dick: 'Naive' to think cuts to police haven't had impact on rising crime

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University graduates will be trained to become detectives in 12 weeks under new fast-tracked plans to tackle a major shortage of senior investigators.

Ministers announced a new £350,000 programme to boost detective numbers by 1,000 over the next five years, by streamlining the training period to attract recruits from a wider variety of backgrounds.

Police forces are facing a shortfall of more than 5,000 detectives and investigators, while the policing watchdog has previously warned that the dearth of trained staff amounts to a “national crisis”.

Traditionally, it takes around two years to become a detective, as uniformed officers have to pass a probation period before choosing to specialise.

While the new scheme retains the same standards, it will offer candidates the chance to become detective without working as a beat officer first.

Policing minister Nick Hurd said: “Detectives are the fact-finders of our police service. They play an important role in bringing criminals to justice and getting to the bottom of complex crimes.

“I’m keen to get more new detectives trained up, so I’m delighted to support this innovative Police Now programme, which will bring in new talent, train detectives in a matter of months and complement other measures that the government and police are taking to keep the public safe.”

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned last year that one in five detective desks were empty or filled with unqualified staff.

“Most forces have a substantial shortage in qualified detectives and other investigators,” the report said.

“This constitutes a continuing national crisis.”

The shortage has been blamed on a growth in demand for staff in specialist areas such as counter-terrorism and difficulties retaining detectives who are tempted by the private sector.

Mounting workloads, exhaustion and stress mean that morale among detectives has hit “rock bottom”, the Police Federation has said.

Chief Constable Matt Jukes, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for detectives, said: “The complex nature of investigations and our work to protect vulnerable people has made the role of detectives more challenging than ever.

“In order to mirror the changing nature of crime, we need to recruit and develop a diverse group of individuals, who will contribute to this vital area of policing and its future, underlining the critical nature of effective investigations to public confidence and trust.”

No start date for the scheme has been fixed, but it is not expected to go live this year.

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