Force-level reports issued on the state of detective policing in England and Wales “make for grim reading”, suggests the Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF). These reports follow on from the headline findings of last month’s Police Federation national survey. With workload, levels of fatigue and stress all on the rise, there’s a feeling that police leaders and Government must now take action to rescue this critical role in policing which is deemed to be in a state of crisis.
Nationally, over three-quarters (76%, to be exact) of those detectives surveyed said their workload had increased in the last year, while the same proportion admitted to workloads being too high over the last 12 months. Notably, 73% of officers questioned for the survey felt that they were not able to provide the service victims needed either most or all of the time.
A staggering nine out of every ten respondents who had taken sickness absence due to their mental health and well-being said that the difficulties they experienced were either caused, or at the very least exacerbated, by work.
Karen Stephens, secretary of the PFNDF, said: “The facts speak for themselves. These results clearly show that detectives are overwhelmed, with increased pressures brought on by a lack of resources. Morale is low. People are exhausted and there’s little sign of improvements to come if things stay the way they are.”
Stephens added: “Being a detective was always a sought after and desirable role. However, this survey shows things have changed, and not for the better. The single aim of every officer, detectives included, is to protect and help others, but what these survey results show is that, despite their best efforts, the demands of the role do not allow them to do this.”
At the Hertfordshire Constabulary, which is Stephens’ own force, 62% of respondents said that service cuts have had a major impact on their morale. This is higher than the national average, where 56% of detectives said that service cuts have exerted a major impact on morale.
In addition, 57% of respondents in Hertfordshire stated that service cuts have substantially increased their overall workloads. This compares to the national figure of 62%.
These results “evidence serious shortcomings” that the PFNDF feels need to be addressed. Chief officers, the College of Policing and the Government “need to sit up and listen”.
They have already been told by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services that there’s a ‘crisis in detectives’. “If we continue to fail the men and women who work in these roles,” believes the PFNDF, “then we ultimately fail the victims whom we aim to protect.”