Fears Australian police recruitment drive could cause understaffing

Western Australia Police Force has launched a campaign specifically targeting applicants from the UK and Ireland.

Fears Australian police recruitment drive could cause understaffing in Scotland iStock

An international recruitment drive from an Australian police force is leading to fears that officers will leave the force in Scotland.

Western Australia Police Force has launched a campaign specifically seeking applicants from the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

Individuals who apply get fast-tracked towards obtaining Australian citizenship – which can be otherwise difficult to acquire due to the country’s immigration system.

Col Blanch, the Australian force’s police commissioner, said he wanted “skilled, experienced constables to work on the frontline to help us cover the biggest policing jurisdiction in the world”.

One Scottish Police Federation representative told the justice affairs magazine, 1919, that Scottish officers have previously been lured away by Australian forces.

He said: “We lost some really good officers in the past to Down Under.

“Some returned but many made a really good life for themselves. This is another drain on our experience.”

Jamie Greene, justice spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, said the recruitment drive should be a “warning” for Scottish ministers.

He said: “This news should set alarm bells ringing for Keith Brown and the SNP.

“Their failures to fully fund frontline policing services has led to officer numbers already hitting their lowest levels since 2008.

“Now the SNP run the risk of losing more talented and hardworking officers to the other side of the world as they plan to impose more terrifying cuts on our police.

“Losing more officers will only put more strain on their overwhelmed colleagues and put public safety at risk.

“Keith Brown cannot continue to ignore these warnings that Scottish police officers are currently finding alternative offers more attractive and urgently reverse his plans to cut police funding even more.”

However, justice secretary Keith Brown said salaries at Police Scotland remained competitive.

He said: “Police officers play a vital and valued role and we have recognised that by ensuring they are the best paid in the UK.

“The basic starting salary of a constable is higher in Scotland than in England and Wales – as is the maximum salary.

“Despite UK Government austerity, we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17 and have invested more than £10bn in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

“Police Scotland has welcomed around 900 new recruits this year and we have a higher number of officers per head of population than England and Wales and more officers now than in March 2007.”