Police Scotland are at risk of losing their most important figures over the next few months amid a retirement ‘boom’ for officers at all levels.
Concerns were raised in the latest edition of 1919 Magazine, published on Tuesday.
A memo from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the body ‘expects further senior officers may retire in the coming months’, while a letter from police chiefs to MSPs warned that officers would resign prematurely due to changes in pensions.
Jamie Greene, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, told the magazine that the police are “overworked and overwhelmed”.
He said: “This note confirms what we already knew; the SNP government presides over a brain drain of senior officers leaving the Scottish Police.
“It’s not just senior police officers who are leaving the police. The total number of officers is at its lowest level in Police Scotland’s history and the situation will only get worse with the SNP’s cuts to the police budget breaking their own 2021 manifesto promise.
“Our officers are overworked and overstretched and eventually many left the force due to job stress, which is an extremely sad situation to have reached.”
Justice Secretary Keith Brown told the magazine the problem was due to budget cuts stemming from Westminster.
Mr Brown said: ‘The idea that the Tories want more money for the police is like a bad joke, given that they have denied police a pay rise in England and Wales the last year – meaning no back-to-back funding in Scotland.
“They have also cut the Scottish Government’s budget by more than 5%, allowed runaway inflation to eat away at everyone’s standard of living, and now want to cut public services even further to give tax breaks to those who earn over £150,000 a year.”
It comes after the confirmation of two major departures from the force.
Deputy Chief Constable Kenny MacDonald will retire in November, while Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr will take on the role of Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police next year.
Of the force’s remaining 11 senior officers, more than half have served 30 years or are approaching the milestone.
Deputy Chief Officer David Page has written to the Criminal Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament outlining the impact of the departures.
He said 1,377 officers of all ranks were “affected by recent pension changes and may leave sooner than would otherwise have been the case”.
Of those who left the force in the past year, 87% said in exit interviews that they were retiring.
Mr Page warned: “We continue to see the impact of reduced officer numbers across a range of operational areas, including our responsiveness to calls from the public.
“Sustained investment is needed to ensure Police Scotland has the capacity and capacity to meet growing demand.”