FORTY detectives on the payroll of a private security firm are being drafted in to plug gaps in the police force.
A G4S job advert is recruiting civilian investigators, some to be based in Rugby, for tasks such as gathering sensitive case material, interviewing victims and witnesses and providing evidence files to Warwickshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Since 2008 the number of police in Warwickshire has dropped from over 1,000 to 800.
Stuart Hinton, secretary of Warwickshire Police Federation, said: “We’re extremely concerned about this. The investigators won’t be directly answerable to the police, but a profit-making security firm and their shareholders.
“Look what happened with G4S at the Olympics, how can the force trust this company when it comes to handling sensitive case material, or dealing with witnesses and victims in high-profile cases? There has to be a degree of autonomy and trust with the police and this detective work should be done by experienced, warranted police.”
According to the Police Reform Act 2002, civilian investigators have the same entitlement to use “reasonable force” as that of a constable, although they will need to be in the presence of a constable if they wish to force their way into a property. They are not allowed to arrest people.
Mr Hinton said there was also a risk of mistakes.
“These people may not have the experience of police detectives and if something isn’t filed correctly or done by the book it could cause a case to collapse.”
A statement from Warwickshire Police said: “From time to time we need to employ additional staff to meet specific operational needs. Recruiting on a
contract basis gives the force flexibility to increase the number of staff required for these specific purposes.
“Staff employed on a temporary basis are contracted to Warwickshire Police by an employment agency, and will be vetted by the force in respect of their suitability. They will be answerable to the force in respect of their work.”
The jobs are advertised as , “likely to be long term contracts with no specified end date”.