Direct entry – ‘no magic bullet for detective shortage’

Police on Parade 2007 - by Chris Eason via Flickr
This article was originally published on this website

31 May 2017

Detective work

Looking for non-police officers to plug the nationwide detective gap is not the answer – that’s the message from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) following an announcement today that Londoners will now have the opportunity to join the Metropolitan Police Service directly as a detective constable, working in investigative policing immediately after initial training.

Karen Stephens, detectives’ lead for PFEW said: “We are aware of the massive workload and stress our detectives are under, with detective numbers dwindling faster than any other group of police officers.  So it is with a certain amount of understanding that we acknowledge the Met’s attempt to stem the haemorrhage of detectives in their own force.

“But, as with other direct entry schemes, we believe that individuals first need a grounding on what it takes to be an officer in the 21st century. Direct entry is not a magic bullet for the current detective shortage which has reached crisis proportions, as recognised by HMIC earlier this year.

“Detectives need first-hand experience of responding in an operational capacity to incidents they would not encounter in any other walk of life – the bedrock of British policing is the Office of Constable.

“In relation to this specific role the question must be asked, what has changed to create the gap? Why is a role that people once queued up to do not a desirable one anymore? There are many contributing factors including workload, the changing types of crime, the fact that the role is not family-friendly and more.”

Mrs Stephens said forces should be looking to existing officers before searching for answers outside the world of policing and also queried the Met’s insistence that candidates had degrees: “One certainty is that there are very talented officers already in the service whose skills and experience could make them fantastic detectives. It is this talent that we must harness and encourage into the role first and foremost.”

She added: “We do, and always have, supported accrediting qualifications to those officers already in policing to recognise their existing skills.  However, it is essential that we do not create a police service where the only chance of becoming a police officer is if you can afford to educate yourself to degree level before joining.  Other organisations are moving away from insisting on degree qualifications so why are we moving towards it?

“There is a danger of marginalising and excluding good quality candidates from all communities, effectively limiting the pool of candidates available. The biggest risk is we end up with a service that doesn’t represent the community it serves because of unnecessary restrictions like this.”

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