Under pressure detectives are facing 'unprecedented demands' on their time
The detectives lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has said colleagues are facing 'unprecedented demands'.
Writing in support of the Federation's national Detectives in Crisis campaign, Karen Stephens says she is determined to highlight the ever-increasing pressures faced by investigators.
"A dream job has turned into a nightmare," says Karen, who has been a detective for almost 17 years and a police officer for more than 26.
"Detectives are facing unprecedented demands. They have case files full of some of the most serious offences - all of which have witnesses and victims who need assistance and support. This month I have been out speaking to some detectives. Each one has their own story, their own pressures and their own observations about the job.
"But I keep hearing the same words and phrases over and over again like: 'pressure', 'under-valued', 'stress', 'struggling', 'frustrated' and, most worrying of all, that word 'crisis'.
"But still they carry on because they want to help people and secure justice for their victims - some of whom are our society's most vulnerable. And despite everything, most still absolutely love their jobs."
The Government's own inspectors recently noted there was a 17 per cent shortfall in the number of detectives needed to do the job. And Karen believes that equates to simple maths - if the Government continues to cut officer numbers, there will be fewer officers to do the job.
"Those fewer officers are now facing increasing levels of violent crime," she explains, "And when the initial response to an incident has ended, and the uniform team have moved on to the next emergency, it is the detectives who painstakingly piece the evidence together, interview the suspects, liaise with the CPS, build the case file, provide adequate disclosure, make sure the witnesses turn up at court, and support the victim through the process.
"The dream job has turned into a nightmare for some with 80 per cent of officers who responded to a PFEW survey saying that their work has negatively affected their mental health."
A former Cleveland DC has spoken about his views on the situation in support of the Detectives in Crisis campaign. DC Phil Dawson said the job had become tougher and tougher in recent times.
"I have enjoyed my role as a detective over the last 27 years but we are massively under-strength, under-staffed and undervalued and we are in crisis at the moment," said Phil.
Cleveland Police Federation chair Andrea Breeze echoes Phil's sentiments.
"Detectives work long hours and their attention to detail is vital in solving crimes," says Andrea.
"Over-worked officers who are constantly under pressure to do more with their time are feeling the pinch.
"It is no wonder that they are feeling devalued and, worryingly, showing signs of ill-health due to the workloads they are forced to carry."