This article is more than 4 years old

Watching the (graduate) detectives

Paul Greatrix on a new graduate entry scheme into the police.
This article is more than 4 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

There is much coverage at the moment of the challenges facing police forces up and down the country as a result of severe pressures arising from funding cuts.

One of the areas highlighted in a BBC report earlier in 2018 is a significant shortage of detectives which the government proposed to address through a new graduate entry training programme.

Of course, there is already a graduate entry route into policing run by Police Now. This two-year programme involves many forces in England:

Police Now’s mission is to transform communities, reduce crime and increase the public’s confidence in policing, by recruiting and developing outstanding and diverse individuals to be leaders in society and on the policing frontline.
Police Now gives exceptional graduates … the opportunity to become police officers and transform challenged and often deprived communities. For many people, crime and the fear of crime is an everyday experience.

As the BBC report noted, the new detective programme, which is to receive £350,000 for development, will focus on problem-solving, crime prevention and safeguarding. But it implied graduates would become detectives “in a matter of months” with the help of this new fast-track training programme.

Actually though, this is just the beginning of a different version of the existing two-year graduate programme:

Although recruits will begin working on cases within three months, they will receive training over a two-year period.
Policing minister Nick Hurd said detectives “play an important role in bringing criminals to justice”.
South Wales Police Chief Constable Matt Jukes said: “Crime is changing, so we need people who are going to be cyber investigators, who can deal with a massive amount of information that’s coming through social media.”
He added that investigators are currently under pressure due to the shortage of available staff. Police forces are also looking at attracting PCs and civilian detectives to make up the 5,000 shortfall.
Mr Jukes said that new detectives would work on crime and robbery cases at the beginning of their training, rather than more complex cases.

There are some more details on the Police Now website:

A Police Now detective programme will – as with the neighbourhood programme – be aligned to the Police Now mission of transforming communities by increasing public confidence in the police and reducing crime. With the benefit of running both programmes, we will actively be able to consider the links between both programmes to ensure shared learning and best practice.
We will take the most successful elements of the Police Now neighbourhood programme and translate these to the detective role. This will include the innovations around the way participants are recruited, trained and developed, such as the initial high-intensity training period and subsequent two-year developmental programme to improve their professional skills and the impact they make on the frontline.

However, not all officers are fans of the new programme. The Oxford Mail reports that the Thames Valley Police Federation chair has said that 12 weeks is not enough time to properly train a detective:

He said: “It’s absolutely astounding they think they can train detectives with no prior police training in just 12 weeks and then unleash them into investigating some of the most serious and complex crimes that police forces have to deal with.
“I am honestly staggered by it, it’s absolutely crazy.
“When are existing detectives going to find the time to manage and tutor these new recruits?”

While some in the police and other professions with a traditionally non-graduate entry have often struggled to come to terms with graduate entry routes, it would be unfortunate if this attitude prevailed. It will though be interesting to see how the new graduate detective programme develops but in itself it is unlikely to address many of the resource challenges facing the police at present.

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