Detectives reveal impact of changes to charging guidance

Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones has called for an urgent review of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Director’s Guidance on Charging after a survey found more than 90 percent of detectives had seen a huge increase in their workloads since changes were introduced.

More than 6,000 officers took part in the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) survey which aimed to find out the impact of the changes to the charging guidance on detectives.

The survey found 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.

Gareth called for an immediate overhaul of the charging guidelines in the wake of the survey.

He said:  “The mental and physical wellbeing members has always been our top priority and we will demand action on anything that is having a damaging impact on either.

“The CPS changes have clearly had massive effect on the workload of our detectives, many of whom were already struggling to find enough hours in the day.

“Enough is enough. The results of this survey have to be taken seriously and measures will have to be introduced to ensure the wellbeing of our members is not compromised because of the extra work these changes have created.

“If the police service wants to hold on to its brightest and best people then it has to treat them with more respect, stop adding more and more to their to-do lists and start listening to their concerns.”

The survey found 59 per cent of the detectives who took part characterised their job as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful, while 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 of detectives 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.

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

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.