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25 January 2021
Norfolk Police Federation Detective Representatives have been discussing the stresses and strains officers in the role face, from not having enough colleagues to the welfare of those already in the role.
Detective Lead Kevin Maskell and Detective Sgt Chris Hobbs got together to discuss the Police Federation’s ‘Detectives In Crisis’ campaign – a month long focus on the pressure those in the role are under.
Chris said: “There are a number of issues. From recruitment, retention of detectives, from increasing levels of administration and the welfare of us and our colleagues.
“As well as highlighting the difficulties we face in the workplace to perform our role to the best of our ability.”
Kevin explained: “Being a police officer and detective is great, we help some wonderful people and we make a lot of difference in people’s lives and I think that’s what we want to achieve.
“But when I joined there was a fight to become a detective… you really had to put the effort in.
“Now, we’ve had issues in the last two or three years where we haven’t had enough applicants for spaces available.”
Both Kevin and Chris explained how there is in their view not enough of an incentive to be a detective, saying “there aren’t any enhancement allowances” and that “there is effectively a loss in remuneration” as colleagues lose extra payments they might receive such as shift allowance.
Kevin said: “There is no incentive to be a detective apart from personal pride.
“It’s not easy to do some of the investigations that we do, so colleagues think ‘why don’t I just go an earn the same, if not more money policing streets, going to domestic, going to schools.
“That’s putting people off unfortunately from becoming detectives and coming to work with us.”
Due to the lack of numbers, Kevin and Chris explained there has been a ripple effect.
Chris said: “I know if you struggle to recruit in certain roles it inevitably creates vacancies in the units and then leads to increasing level of workload and stress for those already there… this is mainly in the CID and safeguarding roles.”
Another issue detectives’ face is an increased amount of administrative work, which Kevin and Chris explained, is leaving detectives working more time behind a computer and less time doing the work they are highly trained in.
Kevin explained: “Since austerity in 2009-10, the police have lost a large layer of administration and so have the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Chris added: “Increasingly we’re spending less proportion of our time actually doing the work that we love and that we’ve been highly trained in, and more time, as Kev said, scanning things and time sat in front of a computer making sure schedules are completed.”
Kevin suggested: “If we could get back to a system where there is a level of administrative support for us, and the CPS, then I think that would be beneficial.”
On a more positive note, Kevin explained the different schemes taking place to try and deal with the issue of recruitment and retention.
He said: “We’ve had an issue of recruitment into the CID in Norfolk that are being dealt with at the moment.
“We’re trialling a direct entry scheme to run alongside our normal progression into the world of CID.
“It’s at the really early stages but hopefully we can be successful.
“We’ve got to be visionary – perhaps for other public sector colleagues. We know there are teachers and other specialists in various areas of the public sector who would fit into the world of an investigator so we need to be looking at that.”
Chris pointed out: “I think we’ve done some good things in Norfolk in terms of a recent change and making the role as attractive as we can.
“What’s important to people is balance.
“We’ve got a good shift pattern at the minute that gives a good work and life balance, with proper periods of rest for officers before they come back in.”
Kevin added: “Remuneration is a key focus, either nationally with detective expenses, or a national bonus payment for retaining PIP level 2 or 3 if you’re an inspector or above.”