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Number of Scottish officers retiring up by 70 per cent

The Scottish Police Federation has said “centuries of experience” are been wiped from the force.

In an article in 1919 magazine, the Scottish Police Federation has said that the number of officers retiring “has soared by around 70 per cent”.

Following last month’s pension changes which allows officers to leave after 25 years of service with no financial penalty for doing so, it is reported that one in 10 are currently considering leaving the force.

As of last month, 1,800 officers had enquired about new pension figures to see what the changes would mean for them.

According to the Scottish government’s quarterly figures, there were 16,805 full time officers in Scotland as of March 31 2022, which represented a decrease of 312 from the previous quarter which ended December 31 2021 (-1.8 per cent). It took Police Scotland officer numbers to the lowest level since 2008.

Meanwhile, an SPA report for Q3 of 2021/22, published in February, recorded 233 leavers for that quarter.

“Retirement remains the most common reason for departure in the officer cohort,” the report said.

It also found there is no evidence yet of a change in the retirement patterns of officers, although it did suggest there may be changes from April when the pension remedy was introduced.

Full pension eligibility was found to still be the “best predictor of officer retirement”, with many officers across the three quarters of the year retiring with 30 years of service. 

The report suggests this indicates "many of those exits may come from those who postponed their retirement to work through the pandemic."

According to the Scottish Police Authority, 122 Police Scotland officers were due to hit full pension eligibility between January and March, although the figures published by 1919 magazine showed that there were 312 leavers during this period.  

The latest SPA figures for probationers, showed an intake of 121 in November of last year. Police Scotland is not part of the Uplift recruitment programme.

David Hamilton, chair of the SPF told the 1919 magazine: “This was an entirely foreseeable situation and it's frustrating to now see Police Scotland scrabbling around trying to keep the wheels on the bus.

“For years we have warned that officers would be looking to leave the service as soon as they could and now that they have the vehicle to do so, they are.

“With our data showing retirals 70 per cent higher than normal, a lot of chickens are coming home to roost. Overworked, underpaid, under pressure and under-appreciated – the warning flags have been there but inexplicably the service chose to ignore them.

“We are now watching centuries of experience leave the organisation both to the detriment of colleagues left in the service and to the public at large.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson told 1919 magazine: “The implications of the McCloud Remedy and other pensions issues are being assessed in full by Police Scotland.

“Retirement rates, in addition to extra pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, have created significant challenge and we are working hard to address these issues and maintain effective policing for the public we serve.

“As a single national service, we are identifying resources and managing recruitment to provide support and stability to frontline policing.”

The PFEW previously told Police Oracle that they were continuing to lobby government for the same changes to be made to pensions in England and Wales as in Scotland.

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