HAMPSHIRE’S PCC says police chiefs are considering hiring military personnel in a bid to tackle a national shortage of serious organised crime (SOC) investigators.

The College of Policing is looking at creating a direct entry route which could be open to those who have worked in the armed forces with experience of military intelligence to boost recruitment in the roles, according to a police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Donna Jones, the Conservative PCC for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said there is a “massive national shortage” of specialist investigators to work in regional organised crime units – known as ROCUs.

Ms Jones, who was elected to the role this year and also leads the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) work on serious organised crime and victims, said: “We know that serious organised crime gangs now operate in every city and all major towns across the country.

“They no longer operate from warehouses, from back office-type hidden buildings, they are operating in residential streets in every city, and in most of the larger towns across the country.”

The Government has extended a recruitment drive to hire 1,150 specialist police officers to work in ROCUs until 2024 so it can fill a remaining 850 posts, Ms Jones said, telling reporters at a briefing: “To do this the College of Policing is going to be formulating a direct entry scheme to perhaps look at taking people from the military that have worked in military intelligence and things like that to make sure that we have the capacity that we need.”

She later added: “People that have come out of military intelligence that are doing redeployment, coming out of the armed forces, they would be the kind of people that – I would imagine – we would be wanting to apply to those jobs within those direct entry positions into the College of Policing.” Ms Jones did acknowledge there may be concerns of a backlash within forces against direct entry candidates from staff who have worked their way up through the ranksbut said: “For the time to get the people through the food chain up to investigations, it will take too long, and we need the people in the roles doing that work now, because of the level of organised crime that currently exists in the country.”

Highlighting examples such as “multiple kidnappings happening across regions on a weekly basis” that she said are very often never even reported to the police, Ms Jones added: “I think the British public are largely unaware of a lot of the serious organised crime that goes on across the country.”