Essex Police advertising for 'volunteer detectives' but move branded 'unacceptable'

January 11, 2019

Essex Police are advertising for two unpaid special constables to help support detectives working on real cases.

The ad is a sign of the force's recruitment "crisis", the Police Federation has said.

The volunteers will support detectives in the Serious Crime Directorate.

A job post on the force's website asks: "Do you want to help investigate the most serious crimes in Essex including murders, attempted murders, stranger rapes and kidnappings?"

It continues: "Working alongside detectives, you'll receive training to help you bring justice to some of the most serious criminals in Essex."

Essex Police has denied it represents "policing on the cheap", although critics have branded the new roles "unacceptable".

Leader of the Labour group on Essex County Council, Ivan Henderson, said: "(It's) unbelievable that we are now looking to rely volunteers to deal with such serious crimes. It's just unacceptable."

Karen Stephens, secretary of the National Police Federation of England and Wales Detectives' Forum, said: "We cannot ignore that there is a crisis in detectives within policing, with a serious shortfall in the numbers of detectives seen throughout England and Wales."

She added that Essex Police's recruitment of volunteer detectives was the first scheme like it that she had seen, but it was not "surprising".

Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing said: "This is not about policing on the cheap or lowering the status of detectives."

He said the force continued to invest in training detectives and that special constables were a key part of the "policing family".

"It may be the case that people hoping to join us as a special constable within the Serious Crime Directorate could bring specialist skills from their everyday professional life which could be really beneficial to this specialist area of policing," he added.

Potential recruits need to be "driven, organised and self-motivated individuals who can volunteer for a minimum of 16 hours a month".

Last August, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said his force had 600 fewer officers and 300 fewer PCSOs than in 2010.

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