The Scottish Police Federation has described the figures as ‘alarming’
BY Bill Heaney
Nearly 1000 officers have quit Police Scotland with less than ten years of service, ‘alarming’ figures have shown.
A freedom of information request obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that 847 officers left the force before serving ten years.
Nearly half of these – 438 – departed after three years or less.
The Scottish Police Federation described the figures as “alarming” and warned the force “can’t afford this level of attrition”.
David Hamilton, Chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “These numbers are really alarming and expose the harsh realities of working in policing.
“Pay, conditions, exposure to violence, occupational risk and the lack of government recognition have been gnawing away at the attractiveness of the profession.
“With record low resourcing, Police Scotland just can’t afford this level of attrition.”
LibDems Wendy Chamberlain MSP, Liam McArthur MSP and Justice Secretary Keith Brown.
Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain, a retired police officer, blasted the Scottish Government for a “shortage of funding”.
She said: “Despite violent and sexual crime being on the rise, Police Scotland have been plagued by a shortage of resources and funding.
“No wonder that significant numbers of officers have had enough and are calling it quits.
“These figures show that Scotland has lost more than a year’s worth of new recruits.
“Police Scotland need to retain skilled and trained officers. Staff quitting so early in their police careers sends a worrying signal about the state of the service.
“A career in the police involves navigating complex pressures and high-level demands.
“The Scottish Government must act to improve pay, conditions and officer welfare or the service will struggle to attract and retain new recruits.”
Justice secretary Keith Brown responded to the claims, saying the SNP had increased police funding year-on-year, with Scottish officers benefiting from higher pay than their English counterparts.
A spokesperson for the justice secretary said: “Around 600 new police officers took the oath of office earlier this year in Scotland where the basic starting salary for a constable in Scotland is currently approximately £5,000 more than that paid to equivalent officers in England and Wales. At almost every rank police pay is higher in Scotland.
“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.
“The recruitment of police officers in Scotland is a matter for the chief constable, however officer numbers fluctuate due to the cycle of recruitment, with retirement being the most common reason for leaving.
“We also have more officers per head than England and Wales and with our officers being the best paid in the UK, it recognises the hard work and dedication of the police workforce across Scotland.”
Responding to the news that the number of police officers is at its lowest level since September 2008, decreasing by 40 full time officers from the previous quarter (30 June 2022) and by 662 officers from 30 September 2021, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said: “Coming against the backdrop of rising levels of sexual and violent crime, these figures will make for alarming reading.
“After years of patting themselves on the back over police officer numbers, SNP ministers are now presiding over a hollowing out of our police force. The loss of so many skilled and experienced officers is especially concerning.
“All of this is a far-cry from the promises of the SNP’s election campaign to protect policing budgets. Ministers need to listen to the concerns of officers and staff and give them the resources necessary to keep communities safe.”