National campaign warns of the crisis in detective policing

13 March 2018

Karen Stephens, Secretary of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum

Karen Stephens, Secretary of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum

The Federation is today launching a new campaign that backs up the findings as detectives both practising and retired, come forward to share their stories and the realities of the job.

Last year’s national detectives’ survey results found:
•    More than half (56%) of the 7,803 respondents, said that service cuts have had a huge impact on their morale, while more than a quarter of detectives felt their physical and mental health had been affected.
•    Half of respondents also said cuts had led to a substantial increase in fatigue (53%) and stress (49%) as they battled to keep up with demand.
•    Nine out of ten of respondents who had taken sickness absence due to their mental health and wellbeing said that the difficulties they experienced were caused, or exacerbated, by work.
•    Over three quarters (76%) said their workload had increased in the last year and the same proportion admitted to workloads being too high over the last 12 months.
•    73% of officers felt that they were not able to provide the service victims needed most or all of the time.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) last year stated there was a crisis in the role and this has been further substantiated by senior figures who are voicing their support.

South Wales Police Chief Constable and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Lead for Investigator Resilience, Matt Jukes, said:  “The role of investigators is one of the many vital roles in policing and one that officers and staff take great pride in fulfilling. However, a significant number of forces are experiencing issues in recruiting and retaining detectives due to a combination of complex factors including those highlighted by the Federation Survey.

"Across the country there are steps being taken to address this and the NPCC is working with the College of Policing and Force colleagues on interventions to fill vacancies including pay and reward structures and revised entry routes, as well as enhanced support for training and wellbeing to help retain officers”.

Former Merseyside Detective Chief Superintendent Brian McNeill said:  “Maintaining the appropriate number of detectives, their level of training and the management of their workloads is critical in order to preserve their expertise in dealing with major investigations, serious and organised crime and the protection of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Former Derbyshire Constabulary Chief Constable Mick Creedon, said:  “The reduction in staff and officer numbers and the lack officers working in this area of policing will impact on the collective ability of the police service to protect the public.

“I commend the Police Federation of England and Wales for launching this campaign and will do whatever I can to support the valuable work of the Federation and the role of the detective.”

The whole of policing has been under pressure since the cuts started in 2010, resulting in serious demand and capacity issues.  Speaking specifically for detectives, Karen Stephens, Secretary of the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum said:  “We cannot ignore that there is a crisis in detective policing – this is supported by the high proportion of officers who took part in our survey.

“There is a serious demand and capacity imbalance in this high pressure role and I have seen the toll this is taking on colleagues – it says a lot when senior police figures are recognising the problem and openly supporting our campaign.

“We want forces, chief officers, Police and Crime Commissioners, the College of Policing and the Government to look at the demands on detective policing and make changes to better support the welfare of my colleagues.”

Over the coming months, a series of case studies will be released that will raise awareness of the stress that comes with being a detective, the types of investigative work that officers get involved with reveal the detrimental impact that a lack of resources is having.