Scotland Yard breaks with tradition to hire new detectives

LONDON: Fans of dark dramas about London crime-fighters will get their chance to become real-life detectives with a new recruitment drive launched Wednesday by the Metropolitan Police — better known as Scotland Yard.

In a first for British policing, detectives will no longer need to have served as patrol officers in uniform, as police chiefs aim to find greater diversity and specialist skills such as dealing with cyber crime.

“London continues to change and so do its criminals,” Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, head of the recruitment programme, said in a statement.

“Complex crimes such as cyber-criminality and the pressing need to protect vulnerable people mean our investigators need to develop new expertise,” Clayman said, adding that he wanted to see more recruits who “look and feel like the Londoners we serve”.

He said a budding Sherlock Holmes looking to join the force should have “a great eye for detail, be able to manage lots of information, be good logical decision makers and critical thinkers”.

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There are currently some 600 detective vacancies in London, although the new scheme is aiming to hire up to 80 detectives initially with a starting salary of just under £30,000.

The Inspectorate of Constabulary, which investigates British policing, has warned of a “severe shortage” of detectives across England and Wales, saying would-be recruits were put off by the high workload, lack of support for trainees and intense scrutiny.

But Tory Ion, a detective working in south London, was quoted in Wednesday’s police statement as saying: “I would encourage anyone looking for an interesting career, where each day is different, to apply”.

Applicants need a degree, which was not previously a requirement, and will have to pass the National Investigators Exam within 12 months of joining.

If successful, they would then be trained for two years and receive the title of detective constable.

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