Serious crimes are being investigated by unqualified officers due to a “critical shortage of police officers”, The Argus can reveal.

Officers are being drafted in to Brighton CID without having sat their detective exams, which is a national requirement for detectives working in the department.

CID officers deal with serious crimes such as rapes and murders.

A Detective Constable working in Brighton CID contacted The Argus and described how there was a “critical shortage of police officers across the entire Brighton and Hove division”.

The DC said: “Officers are having to be drafted in from other departments with almost no notice and with many of these officers not even having passed the detectives exam - a national requirement - and with little or no additional training to prepare them for dealing with the serious crimes investigated by CID.

“It is not uncommon to see my colleagues on the verge of tears because they are under so much pressure and stress and have more work than they can cope with.

“This is nothing short of scandalous and not only puts the public at increased risk but the officers themselves.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police admitted there were officers working in CID without the relevant qualifications but that they are all “experienced investigators”.

The spokesman also admitted the department was not operating at a 100% staff level.

Superintendent Steve Whitton said: "Policing, by its very nature, requires a flexible approach.

“Often this means moving officers, all of whom are trained and competent to investigate crime, into different departments.

“This is why we have recently temporarily moved a number of people into our CID to ensure that we can continue to respond effectively to crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

"We are going through challenging times at the moment and having to make some difficult decisions regarding our resources but, as with all our decision making, the needs of the public always come first.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has assured the public that their safety remains the precedence.

She said: "The number one priority in the Police and Crime Plan will always remain the same - keeping the people of Sussex safe.

"Where and how officers are deployed is an operational decision made by divisional commanders in order to meet local policing demands and priorities.

"Should I find any evidence that officer and staff resilience is affecting police performance I will hold the Chief Constable to account for this on behalf of Sussex residents."