Fears over 'exodus' of senior officers looming over Police Scotland

The force is expected to see a retirement boom of officers at all levels.

Fears over ‘exodus’ of senior officers looming over Police Scotland iStock

Police Scotland faces the prospect of losing its most senior officers over coming months, it has been claimed.

The force is also expected to see a retirement boom of officers at all levels, with a Scottish Police Authority (SPA) memo stating the body is “anticipating further senior officers may retire in coming months”.

Two significant departures have already been confirmed, with assistant chief constable Kenny MacDonald retiring in November, and deputy chief constable Will Kerr taking up a role with Devon and Cornwall Police next year.

With other retirements expected, concerns have been raised that Police Scotland will be left short of experienced figures at the top.

These concerns have been highlighted in the justice and social affairs publication, 1919 Magazine.

The magazine outlined that, of the remaining 11 senior offices in the executive team, more than half have either served for 30 years or are swiftly approaching the milestone.

The force’s executive team comprises of one chief constable, three deputies, and nine assistants.

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Chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone recently described the positions as “high profile and very demanding, requiring resilience and commitment”.

However, these fears are not limited to the top brass – with deputy chief officer David Page writing to the Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee outlining the impact of departures.

He said 1,377 officers of all ranks were “affected by the recent pension changes and could leave earlier than would otherwise have been the case”.

In exit interviews of those who have already left in the past year, 87% said they were retiring.

“We are continuing to see the impact of fewer officers across a range of operational areas, including our responsiveness to calls from the public,” DCO Page warned.

“Sustained investment is required to ensure Police Scotland has the capacity and capability to meet increasing demand.”

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Justice secretary Keith Brown said it was Westminster to blame for financial woes.

“The idea that the Conservatives want more cash for the police is like a bad joke, given that they denied the police a pay rise in England and Wales last year – meaning no consequential funding in Scotland,” he told the publication.

“They have also cut the Scottish Government’s budget by over five per cent, allowed rampant inflation to eat away at everyone’s living standards, and now want to cut public services even further to give tax cuts to those earning more than £150,000 per year.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene pointed the finger towards the Scottish Government, pointing out overall reduced officer numbers.

He said: “It is not just senior police officers who are leaving the force. Overall officer numbers are at their lowest level in Police Scotland’s history and the situation will only get worse with the SNP’s cuts to the policing budget, which break their own 2021 manifesto promise.

“Our officers are overworked and overstretched and ultimately many have left the force as a result of stress related to their job, which is an extremely sad situation to have reached.”

The Scottish Government and Police Scotland have been approached for comment.