Investigators should be paid “bounties” to help tackle crime.
Andy Cooke, the head of the police watchdog, says forces should consider offering rewards to officers.
He believes it could also attract more people to sign up as detectives, amid a national shortfall of up to 5,000 investigators.
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The idea has echoes of US TV hit Dog the Bounty Hunter, starring Duane Chapman, 69.
Mr Cooke, the HM chief inspector of police, said: “If you’re trying to attract people into being a detective, should it carry a bounty as part of that?
“Should there be a bounty on the achievement of passing the various detective exams?”
The number of investigators in major crime units has dropped by 28% in the past decade.
During the same period, the proportion of crimes solved has more than halved from 14% to 6%. Mr Cooke, the former Merseyside chief constable, warned it could take years to alter attitudes towards the job.
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He added: “Changing the whole mindset to allow us to have sufficient detectives isn’t going to happen quickly.
“So there needs to be some different thinking by more intelligent people than me.”
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