Police Scotland’s chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone is to retire.
Sir Iain took over the role in 2018 and has been a serving officer since 1992.
In 2021, his term was extended to August 2025 and he currently has responsibility for 23,000 officers.
Sir Iain, 56, confirmed his intention to retire in the summer during a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Board in Glasgow on Thursday.
Sir Iain’s retirement announcement came as he and Lynn Brown, chief executive of the SPA, presented a paper to the meeting which warns policing north of the border is “unsustainable”.
The paper said: “Police Scotland has often absorbed the impact of wider public sector financial challenges and is taking responsibility in situations where the police service is not the most appropriate service to respond.
“This position is unsustainable in the long-term and detracts from the ability to intervene effectively at the critical end of risk and harm.”
Sir Iain warned there is “unprecedented financial pressures upon the public sector” and that “hard choices lie ahead to deliver effective policing within the revenue budget”.
Scottish justice secretary Keith Brown said the outgoing officer can be proud of the “strong and inspiring leadership he provided”.
He added: “Sir Iain leaves the second largest force in the UK in great shape as it prepares to mark its 10th anniversary – and that is a fitting and lasting legacy to his life of service.”
Responding to the news, Scottish Conservatives shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene MSP said: “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the chief constable’s premature departure is linked to his stark warning that Police Scotland is ‘unsustainable’ in its current form due to SNP underfunding – particularly given that his contract was due to run until 2025.”
He added: “The SNP must heed Sir Iain’s parting, warning shot, and whoever replaces him must be given the resources necessary by them to deliver the level of service our police officers want to offer and which the public expect.”
Michelle Brewster, Unison’s police staff branch secretary, said it is “not a surprise” Sir Iain was “retiring earlier than expected”.
She added: “Police services are facing unsustainable Scottish Government cuts, which will set policing back years.”
Pauline McNeill, Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, said his resignation is a “worrying development which reflects a police force that is on the brink”.
She said: “I am personally very disappointed for the police force to be losing such a dedicated officer. Livingston has not been shy about calling out the Scottish government on police numbers and other key issues affecting the force. He will be a hard act to follow.
“Officers are being pushed to their limits and have had their concerns dismissed time and time again by the Scottish government. The immense pressure our force is under is putting public safety in jeopardy.
Announcing his retirement, he said: “By my last day in service, I will have been a police officer for 31 years and had the privilege of serving as chief constable for nearly six of those years.
“Police Scotland is an organisation with shared values and high levels of operational competence. The service improvements achieved in our ten years are unprecedented across the United Kingdom public sector, delivering effective policing for the public.
“We now have a full leadership team with the experience and capability to continue the progress made and can take confidence from the exceptional role Police Scotland played through Covid, COP26 and the events following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
“The police officers and police staff of Police Scotland are outstanding. Leading them as chief constable to serve the people of Scotland has been the honour of my working life.”
Sir Iain joined Lothian and Borders Police in 1992 and went on to serve in detective and uniform roles in Edinburgh and West Lothian.
As detective superintendent, he was involved in the security operation around the G8 meeting in 2005 and headed the murder investigation into the double shooting at the Marmion Bar in Edinburgh.
Following promotion to detective chief superintendent, he commanded the force’s Criminal Investigation Department.
He also undertook an external role as a senior investigator to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.
He was appointed assistant chief constable for Lothian and Borders Police in April 2009 during which time he was a gold commander for many largescale events including the visit to Edinburgh of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
He was involved in work to form Police Scotland in 2012 and was appointed deputy chief constable crime and operational support.
In this role, he oversaw the move to the multi-agency Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh.
In 2015 he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal and was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in June 2022 for services to policing and the public.
He continues to advise on the Operation Kenova investigation into matters during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.