Change to charging guidance impacting on detectives

Most detectives have seen their workload increase due to the changes to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Director’s Guidance on Charging, a new Federation survey has revealed.

More than 6,000 detectives responded to the the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) survey which aimed to discover the impact of the changes on them.

It revealed 93 per cent of respondents indicated their overall workload had increased due to the changes, while 61 per cent said the changes had increased their intention to leave their role.

A total of 59 per cent characterised their job as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful, and 87 per cent said the changes had increased how stressful they find their job. 

In addition, 67 per cent indicated they had decreased the number of hours they were able to spend actively investigating live cases - due to increased case preparation work, while 86 per cent said the changes had decreased the efficiency of the criminal justice system.

The survey also found:
• 77 per cent said their overall job satisfaction had decreased
• 96 per cent indicated the changes increased the number of hours spent on pre-charging file preparation
• 80 per cent of respondents indicated they had increased the number of active cases they were working on
• 45 per cent indicated the number of victims withdrawing from active participation with their investigation has increased due to the changes.

Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe said the survey had made it clear how the changes to guidance on charging had impacted on detectives.

“The detective role is already very stressful and many were already feeling under pressure when this change to the charging processes changed,” he explained.

“The extra work that is now falling on them is just adding to the pressure they are under.

 “We are fully supportive of the Federation’s calls for a rethink on the charging guidance as it is having a massive impact on our detective colleagues.” 

Glyn Pattinson, chair of the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF), has called for a fundamental review of the guidance.

Discussing the survey’s findings, he said: “This shows how deeply frustrated colleagues are with the CPS changes, and the negative impact that implementing the guidance has on colleagues. Morale is increasingly low because detectives are being tied down with bureaucracy, rather than being able to get on with their jobs. 

“These changes have meant colleagues are unfairly being asked to jump through hoops. While we’re fully supportive of the need for full disclosure, the need for trial-ready files – particularly when individuals plead guilty - is often unnecessary.

“It’s clear from the survey that workloads have increased massively, and the system is on the point of collapse. There’s also an increasing number of dedicated detectives who want to leave due to the pressure caused by the present system, and it will be impossible to replace this experience once it is lost.

“I was recently with a group of student officers who when they joined were determined to become detectives. One year on in their service, they had completely changed their minds because they’d seen first-hand the complexities, risks, and deep frustration of being in the role.

“The changes are impacting on police officers in many roles and not just detectives. We urgently need the CPS to review its guidance and continue to work alongside the Police Federation and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to reconsider the full impact of the changes.”

Read the report.