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Sussex Police Federation

Sussex Police Federation: Detectives have unrealistic and unmanageable levels of work

19 January 2021

Detectives in Sussex have “unrealistic and unmanageable levels of work” and are “struggling to keep their heads above water”, the force’s Federation has warned.

Investigators are encountering larger workloads and greater scrutiny than ever before, according to Simon Steele, Federation Secretary.

The Federation has been talking to detectives across the force and has received a recurring message from officers that Government cuts to policing have had a significant impact.

Simon said: “Detectives feel that they are not providing the level of service to victims that they would like and they are scared of becoming overwhelmed and missing something vital in the investigation which may lead to an offender walking free and their subsequently being investigated for misconduct. The fear of being investigated for failing to do something is a very real threat. Detectives are under the spotlight 24/7 and every decision that they make is scrutinised and they are often judged with the benefit of hindsight, rather than the information they had at the time the decision was made.

“This of course all has a knock-on effect on their health and wellbeing. Instead of relaxing at home with their families and being able to recharge on their days off, they are worrying about the work that remains outstanding on their desks, what they have done or forgotten to do and what will they walk into on their next shift. All of this adds to the pressure and some detectives are experiencing difficulties with their mental health.”

Simon said it was vitally important that the service starts listening to its colleagues when they speak out about stress, anxiety and depression, and ensure the right support is in place. He called for specialist coaching and counselling, and immediate support for those in distress.

Simon added: “Government cuts to policing have had a significant impact on our investigators, particularly with the loss of our Prosecution Case Workers who lifted a significant load off our detectives’ desks. It is not just a case of gathering evidence, interviewing suspects and placing them before the courts anymore. Investigations nowadays are far more complex and the use of modern technology and media platforms have made it extremely difficult for our officers to cope with the amount of additional material that an investigation now generates. Add to that the constant memos and requests from CPS, added pressures of protecting vulnerable victims and witnesses and ensuring that they are safeguarded, it is no surprise that the role of the detective is no longer as attractive as it always used to be.”