Labour says it would force police to recruit detectives directly from business without having to work as beat officers first, if it wins power.
Shadow minister Jess Phillips said 90% of crimes “currently go unsolved” due in part to a shortage of detectives.
But Policing Minister Chris Philp accused Labour of being “soft on crime and soft on criminals”.
There are an estimated 7,000 detective vacancies, according to the police foundation think tank.
Several police forces run schemes to recruit directly from industry, although the policy has not always been welcomed by the Police Federation, which has argued in the past that beat experience is vital.
Under Labour’s plans, individuals with experience in business fraud investigation, child protection and other relevant fields would be allowed to join the police as entry-level detectives.
Explaining the policy on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Phillips joked “I quite fancy myself becoming a police detective”.
Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding said fewer than half of police forces have a scheme to directly recruit detectives with relevant professional backgrounds and skill sets.
“It should be across the board scheme to try to undo the massive shortfall in detective vacancies”.
Responding to the Labour’s proposal, Steve Hartshorn, National Chair of Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “I am pleased to see the opposition acknowledge that there is a detective crisis and a need to increase their numbers.
“My sincere hope is pay and conditions to recruit and retain people with such skills into policing will make it an attractive career for them to switch over.
“Internal recruitment to make becoming a detective a more attractive role should also be reviewed to understand why it’s not seen as a career choice.
“I fear we will lose more police officers to the private sector and fall even further behind if the issues are not addressed soon.”
Jess Phillips claimed the criminal justice system had suffered “total collapse and calamity” under the Conservatives.
Criminals have “never had it so good”, she added, and “people don’t expect anyone to be caught”.
Chris Philp defended the government’s record and accused Labour of being “soft on crime and soft on criminals”.
He said: “Under the Conservatives, adult rape convictions have increased by two thirds over the last year, dangerous criminals are being locked up for longer, and there are now over 20,000 new police officers helping to keep our streets safe.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The government has delivered more police officers than ever in England and Wales and the home secretary expects police to improve public confidence by getting the basics right – catching more criminals and delivering justice for victims.”
It comes after a new figure from the Home Office showed that only 5.7% of crimes were solved by police in 2022.
The Home Office figure for England and Wales covers the 12 months from April 2022.