Graduates to become police detectives in 12 weeks in bid to tackle severe shortages
Graduates will be trained as detectives in 12 weeks under Government plans to tackle a severe shortage of police investigators.
Ministers announced Â£350,000 funding for the development of a fast-track training programme, following warnings about forces' investigative staff numbers.
Last year, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) concluded that a dearth of qualified detectives amounted to a "national crisis".
The watchdog raised concerns again in March, revealing there was a shortfall of 5,000 investigators across England and Wales.
Police will be able to boost the number of detectives by up to 1,000 in the next five years as a result of the new initiative, according to the Home Office.
The department will work with Police Now, a police graduate recruitment programme, to develop the scheme.
It will include digital training to ensure that recruits are equipped to deal with the "changing nature" of modern crime and focus on problem-solving, crime prevention and safeguarding.
Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: "Detectives are the fact-finders of our police service. They play an important role in bringing criminals to justice and getting to the bottom of complex crimes.
"I'm keen to get more new detectives trained up, so I'm delighted to support this innovative Police Now programme, which will bring in new talent, train detectives in a matter of months and complement other measures that the Government and police are taking to keep the public safe."
In its latest assessment of police effectiveness, HMICFRS found one in five detective desks are empty or filled with unqualified staff.
"Most forces have a substantial shortage in qualified detectives and other investigators," the report said. "This constitutes a continuing national crisis."
Explanations cited for the shortfall include a growth in demand in specialist areas such as counter-terrorism and difficulties in retaining detectives as their skills are increasingly attractive to the commercial sector.
The Police Federation warned last year that morale among detectives had hit "rock bottom" amid mounting workloads, exhaustion and stress.
Chief Constable Matt Jukes, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for detectives, said: "The complex nature of investigations and our work to protect vulnerable people has made the role of detectives more challenging than ever.
"In order to mirror the changing nature of crime, we need to recruit and develop a diverse group of individuals, who will contribute to this vital area of policing and its future, underlining the critical nature of effective investigations to public confidence and trust."
Police Now started in the Metropolitan Police before expanding and becoming an independent charity operating across 25 force areas in England and Wales.
It will receive Â£350,000 in "seed funding" for the new detective entry programme, in addition to Â£2.8 million already committed by the Home Office for 2018/19.
David Spencer, co-founder and chief executive of Police Now, said: "As a former detective myself, I understand the positive impact that detectives can have on reducing crime, increasing confidence in communities and protecting the most vulnerable in society.
"Working with forces and the Home Office, we hope this new scheme will encourage a new group of diverse and brilliant individuals to enter the police service and contribute to the outstanding work being done by existing detectives up and down the country."
No start date for the scheme has been fixed but it is not expected to go live this year.