Volunteer 'detectives' to investigate murders and organised crime at Essex Police


A POLICE force is using volunteers to investigate the most serious offences including murders and organised crime.

An Essex Police advert said it wanted special constables to work in its major crime unit.

It added: "You'll have full police powers and help to investigate the most serious crimes in Essex."

There is a dire shortage of trained detectives nationally with about 4,000 vacancies that can't be filled across the country.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of Essex Police’s serious crime directorate (above) said volunteers would investigate "the most serious crimes in including murders, attempted murders, stranger rapes, kidnappings, complex fraud, corruption, money laundering and electoral fraud."

The move has drawn criticism from former seasoned detectives who fear they will not be up to the job.

In a debate about it on Linkedin, former Met Police DCI David McKelvey, posted: "So now Essex Police are so desperate they are asking for ‘volunteers’ to become detectives on their Major Crime Unit. 

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"Those ‘volunteers’ will have full police powers.

"Effectively untrained people investigating murders and serious crime.

"What is going on? Complete madness!"  

Mick Randall, a former case manager at the Serious Fraud Office, added: "You cannot volunteer to be a doctor, a teacher or a nurse. It takes years of experience and learning. So does being a detective."

Paul Kane, a DS with the Police Scotland cyber crime unit, said: "Common sense I think dictates that these specials will not be running any investigations or making decisions by themselves.

"I imagine this has been necessary due to cuts over the years.

Don’t be critical when they are trying to encourage people to become specials to help with keeping your communities safer."

PS Laura Heggie, chairwoman of the Essex Police Federation, said: "This role as a detective is for them to become part of a team. No one person investigates serious crimes such as a murder there are a number of officers and civilian investigators in the background.

"It is recognised we do have an issue in Essex with both recruiting and retaining detectives, this can be a way to assist and relieve some of the burden on our detectives."

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