Who says there has been a drop in the number of detectives?
The Guardian reported on Tuesday 25 June 2019 that the number of detectives in police forces in England and Wales had dropped 28% between 2010/11 and 2017/8. This is based on figures obtained by Freedom of Information Act enquiries.
Does the number of detectives matter?
According to the Guardian, the detection rate for homicides went down from 83% to 74% in the same period. Of course, many factors affect the detection rate, not just the number of detectives. The quality of them matters too, and spending on the quality and quantity of training they get probably affects that.
Is it only about resources? Are there vacancies for detectives?
One factor the article suggested was that officers find detective work more stressful and less rewarding than other areas of policing. I am surprised at that. Perhaps it is due to my personality, but I would find solving a serious crime highly rewarding. I would also find most aspects of policing stressful.
Is the change in the clear-up rate all due to lack of detectives?
It is possible that murderers are getting better at it. However, I am aware, from other sources, that there are resource problems for forensic laboratories. Police forces often require the labs to operate within financial constraints. This means they can carry out only certain tests, even if they think further tests would lead to more certain results. This could lead to miscarriages of justice, as well as to crimes going unsolved.
How does this affect fictional detectives?
Readers should find it all the more credible that amateur detectives, such as my hero, Frank Hill, are needed to solve crimes the police haven’t the resources to investigate properly. I have written about the need for us to trust the police and believe the amateur detective can contribute to their accountability.
This does not mean that I am pleased. I want to see real justice where there are real crimes. I don’t want the courts to convict innocent people, any more than I want guilty ones to get away with it.
How are my fictional detectives?
I am pleased to say that the second book in the series Accounting for Murder is now being edited and should be available soon. Its subtitle is Old Money.