Derbyshire Police Federation

Detectives’ rep motivated by ‘Batman syndrome’

5 May 2022

Everyone has their own motivations for getting into a career like policing – for Detective Inspector Dan Phillips it was “Batman syndrome”.

A senior officer with 15 years’ policing experience, he is Derbyshire’s newly appointed representative to the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF).

Dan explains: “I’ve always had that sort of ‘Batman syndrome’ where I want to help other people. I was bullied as a kid and had all that grief, so I wanted to do a job that helped other people. I was in the Army previously and one of my friends joined Derbyshire Police – I chatted with him about it and things went from there.

“I absolutely loved the uniform role, but over time I got really interested in the investigations side of things and the bigger crimes, so I applied to CID, and I’ve never looked back.”

Dan, whose wife is a childminder and whose extended family all live in Derbyshire, has been a detective for the majority of his policing career. This has included spells in public protection, CID, volume crime, Special Branch and now Organised Crime. He admits: “The only one I haven’t done is financial.”

So why become a Federation rep and join the PFNDF?

Dan points to the changes that have occurred in detective policing in recent years, particularly around workloads and disclosure, that have made the job harder and more stressful.

Rather than “moaning in the office”, he has decided to work with the Force to bring about change, while also tackling the “them and us culture” that was developing.

Under the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) changes to disclosure, detectives must now complete their redactions and disclosure schedules before a charging decision is made. In many cases this can mean considerable time and effort expended without a case going forward. Where previously that work would have been done by ‘file prep’ staff, it now rests on the shoulders of officers.

Dan says: “The problem is the CPS can be hit and miss. Even as a DI, I struggle to know what the outcome is going to be. We would previously do the redaction and the disclosure statements after the charge, so we’d have weeks or months before the first hearing to get it done, but now it is in advance, and in bigger cases we can have officers doing nothing else for two weeks which is obviously not ideal.”

By joining the Detectives’ Forum, Dan hopes to influence the direction of the Force and to support his colleagues. He is aware of the recent Police Federation pay and morale survey which found that a worrying 67 per cent of Derbyshire officers described their morale as low. Dan attributes this to the lack of numbers and having too few detectives to cope with the workloads.

“The job I’m doing now would have been done by twice as many people a decade ago,” says Dan, “We have reduced and reduced, downsized, and crammed as much as we can to one role, but I think the cracks are showing.

“The Prime Minister suggested we have this uplift, but I'm not sure we’re seeing it in the right areas. New crime types are coming around all the time – five years ago we didn’t have County Lines teams and now it is a team that is really busy and effective, and we have teams specifically for vulnerability. So, the effect has been to filter frontline troops into other areas.”

Even the direct entry detectives will take up to two years to be qualified to come into the detective role.

Dan added: “The main issue is probably demand. A lot of our colleagues are struggling with the workload, especially in specialist units. A lot of them are carrying 20 odd incidents and the risk that goes with each one. There’s a concern that when things go wrong, when people start looking into what was done and how it was done, this will come back on individuals. So, through my work on PFNDF, I will be looking to ensure best practice is at the forefront of people’s thoughts.

“I think the Force leadership are amenable and ready to listen, but the reality is that any improvements will take time.”

 

 

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