Up to 1,000 graduates will train as detectives in a new fast-track scheme designed to help tackle a severe shortage in police investigators.
After completing an intensive 12-week training academy, successful applicants will spend a short time in a uniformed role before taking up an investigative posting.
Overall, the programme lasts for two years, during which time the trainee detective constables will continue being assessed while working on cases.
In 2017, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) concluded that a dearth of qualified detectives amounted to a “national crisis”.
The watchdog raised concerns again last year, revealing there was a shortfall of 5,000 investigators across England and Wales.
From Monday, a graduate with at least two years’ work experience can apply to be a trainee Detective Constable through the National Detective Programme, which is run by charity Police Now.
Initially, the scheme is seeking 90 candidates who will train in eight forces in England and Wales.
Organisers are aiming to expand the initiative over the next five years, recruiting up to 1,000 new investigators.
A separate Police Now programme has seen 640 graduates join neighbourhood policing teams as a Pc over the last four years.
Police Now chief executive David Spencer said: “Following on from our experience recruiting graduates into neighbourhood policing, we are working with our partner police forces to recruit, train and develop outstanding and diverse graduates into investigative detective roles.
“We look forward to bringing new people into the police service, to work alongside the brilliant detectives up and down the country who are already serving the most vulnerable in our society.”
The scheme was welcomed by South Wales Police chief constable Matt Jukes, who is the national lead for recruitment, retention and well-being of detectives.
He said: “Crime is changing and many police forces need to recruit more investigators, with an ever widening range of skills.”
Policing minister Nick Hurd said: “Detectives are a vital part of the police’s capability to investigate crime and bring perpetrators to justice.
“Police Now has a successful track record of bringing talented people into policing and working with forces to train and develop them, and I am delighted to support this scheme.”