Concerns raised as Police Scotland faces an exodus of senior officers

The number of police officers retiring has risen around 70 per cent which could lead to a loss of experienced senior personnel, it has been claimed.

By Stephen Wilkie
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 12:29 pm

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) says its data shows “centuries of experience” is being wiped from the force and warned Police Scotland has ignored the “entirely foreseeable” exodus.

Long-serving police officers who stayed on to assist during the Covid pandemic are also contributing to a fresh round of retirements.

Police Scotland said it was aware of the “significant challenge”, but that the force was “working hard to address these issues”.

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Police Scotland faces an 'exodus' of officers, the SPF has warned. Pic: PA

However, with new pension arrangements allowing officers to retire earlier, coupled with low morale and extra work pressures, the SPF, which represents all officers and special constables up to the rank of chief inspector- warned that “chickens are coming home to roost”.

The latest available figures show the number of police officers in Scotland stood at 17,117 in December 2021 – down 115 from September that year.

They also reveal a decrease of 117 officers – or 0.7% – over a one-year period.

It is is understood around one in ten are currently considering leaving the force after the introduction last month of pension arrangements that will let officers retire five years early.

David Hamilton of the SPF warned that "chickens are coming home to roost" as retirements rise. Pic: SPF

About 1,800 officers have asked about the new terms – known as the McCloud remedy – which allow them to retire about 25 years’ service without a financial penalty.

SPF chairman David Hamilton, said the Federation’s 1919 magazine: “This was an entirely foreseeable situation and it's frustrating to now see Police Scotland scrabbling around trying to keep the wheels on the bus.

“For years we have warned that officers would be looking to leave the service as soon as they could and now that they have the vehicle to do so, they are.

“With our data showing retirals 70% than normal, a lot of chickens are coming home to roost. Overworked, underpaid, under pressure and under-appreciated – the warning flags have been there but inexplicably the service chose to ignore them.”

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr praised officers who delayed their retirement during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pic: PA

Mr Hamilton said a number of long-serving police officers who stayed on during the Covid pandemic are now looking to retire.

Scottish Police Authority (SPA) documents reveal 122 officers were due to hit the point of retirement between January and March this year.

Analysis suggested “many of those exits may come from those who postponed their retirement to work through the pandemic”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The implications of the McCloud Remedy and other pensions issues are being assessed in full by Police Scotland.

“Retirement rates, in addition to extra pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, have created significant challenge and we are working hard to address these issues and maintain effective policing for the public we serve.

“As a single national service, we are identifying resources and managing recruitment to provide support and stability to frontline policing.”

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr added: “The Chief Constable has consistently thanked officers and staff for stepping forward to play a vital role throughout the pandemic.

“Policing is a demanding but rewarding vocation and I am grateful to all our officers and staff, and their families, for their significant commitment to public service.”