Despite some of the negative thoughts about police cuts and the closure of many police stations, which I also had concerns about, the restructuring of the service offered to the public, which has created Police Investigation Centres has definitely been a bonus.
I wrote last year about my temporary role working in one of the new centres at Basingstoke and I have completed nearly 6 months which has given me a much better understanding of how investigations are conducted, which I thought I would share with you.
A large part of the work done at an Investigation Centre is the volume handling of crime. This is the dealing of suspects who have been arrested on suspicion of crimes.
The volume crime investigations range from theft and minor thefts offences through to drug dealing and some of the serious assaults, many of which re domestic related. This is the area that I work in.
In addition to the volume side of things, there is the serious crime. This will be robbery offences, serious injury assaults and complex fraud, to name a few.
These serious offences are dealt with by CID officers, where there are more protracted cases and the level of investigation requires the additional skills that CID officers have.
There is also a team of specialist investigators who deal with sexual offences; these crimes mainly deal with adult offenders and their role will include the grooming of victims and paedophile hunters too. This unit is the Amberstone Unit.
Another specialist role is those officers wo deal with child sexual offences. This will also include those offenders who groom children. This unit is the Child Investigation Abuse Team (CIAT)
The officers and investigators who work in Amberstone and CIAT are specially trained to deal with the victims of these crimes, which are among the most serious that the police will deal with. It is also a very sensitive role too.
Within the Centre is also a team of officers who develop and react to intelligence. These officers will deal with organised crime, such as the targeting of vulnerable victims where large sums of money are demanded for very little work, for instance a roofing repair. A series of burglaries would be another example of the work undertaken by these officers.
The centralisation of all these officers and teams means that offenders arrested for all manner of offences can be dealt with within one custody centre, rather than split over the county, which is was like before the changes.
It also means that officers and investigators with a range of skills are brought together where they can assist one another. A good example of this is where someone has been arrested for a domestic assault, which is a volume crime investigation matter, but the victim may further disclose serious sexual assault, where officers from the Amberstone Team can be brought into the investigation.
In addition to the restructuring of police buildings and how this has led to the changes we now see, the reduction in police budgets has also led to some units becoming smaller, such as the Dog Unit and the Roads Policing Unit (Traffic)
The reductions have been perceived as negative, which in some ways they are, but to help counteract the negative side of this, something that the public will not see is that some of the officers from these departments have relocated to the Investigation Centres, which has provided additional skills and experience when dealing with some of the road traffic offences, or offences involving dangerous dogs, where they are able to share their knowledge with other officers whose experience in these offences is more limited, therefore up-skilling their colleagues.
Now I have had more time to experience the change in our working practices, I can say that on the whole there is an advantage to this method of working, which will mean that the public overall get a better service when reported crimes are investigated.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Farnborough Police Office.