Mental health and personal life risks blamed for shortage of police detectives in Yorkshire

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Mental health and risks to people's personal lives are to blame for the shortage of detectives at Yorkshire's largest police force it has been claimed.

Detective Inspector Phil Jackson, West Yorkshire Police Federation's Detectives' Lead said the force has suffered from a shortfall in detectives following years of austerity, which has resulted in a "crisis in CID departments".

Detective Inspector Phil Jackson, West Yorkshire Police Federations Detectives Lead.

Detective Inspector Phil Jackson, West Yorkshire Police Federations Detectives Lead.

Mr Jackson said patrol policing can be understood as a sprint where the baton is passed on after each shift, but investigation is a marathon which can see detectives carrying the burden alone.

He said: “We’ve got a crisis there for people that want to do it because they see that there’s risk and how it affects you mentally and physically as you go because you can’t let the investigation down - you’ve got to stay with it.”

Mr Jackson has called for more to be done to encourage people into the role.

He said: “I think it’s down to individual departments and districts to nurture talent and talent-spot, and to make the role more attractive.

"To say, ‘Are we going to give a bonus payment?’, and not all forces can do that, but to say, ‘Are we going to give it on par with the shift allowance? Are we going to make them so they’re not financially detrimental to the families?’.

“It’s about nurturing and talent-spotting and making them keen and getting them trained up to understand what the role is, and hopefully they’ll remain in the detective world to have a long and fruitful career.”

Mr Jackson said the role’s status has been damaged in recent years, but more is now being done to get new recruits through the system, and direct entry can help to get people into investigative roles.

He said: “I think if the people that are the right candidates to do the right role, then I think it’s fantastic and why not bring other people with other skills from other industries in? They can always help.

"The difficulty is we have a massive skills gap that we’ve got to try and plug, and sometimes it’s really difficult for new people coming in to understand that, what has gone before and the foundations which have built up. So it’s about getting them along to that stage and sometimes it’s a bumpy road.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Ridley, of West Yorkshire Police, said there is a currently a shortfall of detectives in policing across the UK, which the force, along with its partners, is working to address.

He said: “We are part of a national working group seeking to resolve this issue and do have a force action plan dedicated to filling investigator gaps within our own workforce within the next two years.

“Work already in place includes a fast track recruitment process for detectives which will have recruited 150 Detective Constables by Christmas 2019, and improvements to our own Trainee Investigator Programme which has reduced bureaucracy and improved support for candidates.

“These improvements have greatly increased our exam pass rate for trainee investigators helping more of them qualify quicker, and get into Districts to begin their careers within CID.

“That said, the force is fully aware of the impact and strains understaffing has created on officers across all parts of West Yorkshire Police and detectives are no different in facing these significant pressures.

“This is an issue we take very seriously and over the past few years the force has established a number of wellbeing initiatives for staff.

“These include a Peer Support Network of 200 Peer Supporters who are trained to listen confidentially and offer advice and services, and the creation of a ‘wellbeing zone’ on our intranet which can signpost officers to all manner of support services

“Work is also ongoing on a force ‘trauma project to ensure those investigators in the most demanding positions have appropriate support and monitoring.

“We do recognise that detectives carry out a highly demanding role due to both workloads and the nature of the very serious crime they are called on to investigate and we are doing all we can to support them.”