Warnings over exodus of senior officers from Police Scotland

Police Scotland is facing an exodus of senior officers that will wipe out “centuries of experience”, it has been claimed.

May 3, 2022
By Tony Thompson

According to a report in 1919 Magazine, a combination of new pension arrangements and long-serving officers delaying their retirement to assist during the Covid pandemic means that retirement rates are 70 per cent higher than normal.

The force said it was aware of the “significant challenge” but was “working hard to address these issues”.

The latest available figures show the number of police officers in Scotland stood at 17,117 in December 2021 – down 115 from September. However, Scottish Police Authority (SPA) documents reveal 122 officers were due to hit the point of retirement between January and March this year.

That number is far higher than normal, and SPA analysis suggested “many of those exits may come from those who postponed their retirement to work through the pandemic”.

It is also understood that 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.

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

David Hamilton, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, told 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 per cent higher 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.

“We are now watching centuries of experience leave the organisation both to the detriment of colleagues left in the service and to the public at large.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson told the magazine: “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.”

You can read the full story here.

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