The murder squad made up of civilians

24 January 2009 
Daily Telegraph
Richard Edwards

An RSPCA worker and a former civil servant are being used by police to investigate murders in a cost-cutting initiative. Greater Manchester Police has set up the country's first murder inquiry team made up of civilian workers. It means that up to half of such cases in Manchester now are not dealt with by the CID.

Among 17 civilian investigators are a former employee of the Department of Work and Pensions, staff from the RSPCA and Army, and several retired detectives. They investigate "category C'' murders - in which the offender is identified from an early stage - and will interview neighbours, seize phones, search bins and prepare a case for court.

Investigators have designated powers allowing them to apply to execute search warrants. Some have powers of arrest if a suspect is being questioned in a police station. The team took more than a dozen murder cases to trial last year and it is said to save up to pounds 500,000 a year compared with a unit of fully sworn officers.

It is run by Andy Tattersall, an experienced former detective superintendent, who said that the standard of prosecution files is "really high''.

But some detectives are not happy with the development. Brian Stockham, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales's national CID practitioners' group, said: "If we have a dads' army of detectives, hotchpotch and mixed-accredited people investigating murder we may as well advertise to get Miss Marple back. "Only detectives who are properly accredited and trained should be investigating that level of crime.''

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