Police leaders and government must do more to tackle a seemingly unstoppable crisis in detective policing as morale hits rock bottom.
That was the message from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) as findings from its national detectives’ survey showed workload, fatigue and stress was on the rise.
The findings were released on day one of its annual National Detectives Forum that sees practitioners gather to discuss the issues faced by those in this specialist role.
Over half (56 per cent) of the 7,803 respondents, the largest number of respondents since the survey began, said that service cuts have had a huge impact on their morale whilst over a quarter of detectives felt their physical and mental health had been affected. Half of respondents also said cuts had led to a substantial increase in fatigue (53 per cent) and stress (49 per cent) as they battled to keep up with demand.
A staggering nine out of ten of respondents who had taken sickness absence due to their mental health and wellbeing said that the difficulties they experienced were caused, or exacerbated, by work.
Karen Stephens, Secretary of the Police Federation National Detective Forum, 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 is little sign of improvements to come if things stay the way they are.”
Over three quarters (76 per cent) of those surveyed said their workload had increased in the last year and the same proportion admitted to workloads being too high over the last 12 months. 73 per cent of officers felt that they were not able to provide the service victims needed most or all of the time.
Mrs Stephens said: “The single aim of every officer, detectives included, is to protect and help others. But what these results show is that despite their best efforts, the demands of the role do not allow them to do this. This is further emphasised with over half of the respondents saying they did not even have time to stay up to date with the latest training.”
Work life balance was also an issue with four out of five respondents saying their work as a detective had kept them away from their family and friends. Over two thirds (71 per cent) admitted to experiencing difficulties in booking time off or taking annual leave.
Mrs Stephens added: “Being a detective was always a sought after, desirable role. However this survey shows things have changed and not for the better. There are serious shortcomings that need to be addressed. chief officers, the College of Policing and Government need to sit up and listen. They have already been told by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) when they stated that there was a ‘crisis in detectives’ and now people doing the job are telling them in their thousands. If we continue to fail the men and women who work in these roles then we ultimately fail the victims we aim to protect.”