The Scottish Conservatives have warned Police Scotland is losing “swathes” of experienced officers as new figures show more than 3,000 have left the single force since its inception.
Data obtained by the party through freedom-of-information legislation shows 1,426 of the 3,159 officers who have departed the force since its creation in April 2013 had service spans of between 26 and 30 years.
The number of officers retiring is dependent on a number of things but mostly officers retire after 30 years’ servicePeter Blair
A further 99 have left after service of 30 or more years, with the Tories calculating the combined loss could be the equivalent of at least 40,000 years of experience.
The figures show 310 officers left with less than two years’ service, with 239 departing after between three and five years.
The highest number of departures was in the Greater Glasgow area (382) followed by the north east (286) and Edinburgh (198).
A total of 285 men and women have left the specialist crime unit while operations support has lost 238 officers.
A survey of Police Scotland staff in October 2015 found a third of the workforce planned to leave the organisation within the next three years.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Officers seem to be leaving Police Scotland in their droves.
“We know that staff said they were discontented and a third were wanting to quit within three years - and this has been borne out in these figures.
“While, of course, there are plenty of people who may wish to take early retirement, these figures point to something deeper.
“More than 3,000 officers have left Police Scotland since its inception and thousands more say they are considering following them out the door.
“Every organisation needs a mix of new blood and experience but Police Scotland has lost great swathes of experienced officers just as huge changes have been brought into policing.”
Peter Blair, head of resource management at Police Scotland, said: “The number of officers retiring is dependent on a number of things but mostly officers retire after 30 years’ service.
“We are aware of the patterns going forward and that we can cover any rise and fall as required in our normal recruitment activity.
“We continue to maintain officers at the current level and recruit accordingly, and we have sufficient applications to manage to do that without the need to offer any additional incentives.
“We do not see any issue with the small anticipated rise in retirement rates in the near future and treat it normally as the rise and fall expected.
“Most officers retire in their late 40s or early 50s after completing 30 years’ service, and any who wish to remain are welcome to do so, however beyond 60 years of age they currently need to agree continued employment with the organisation.”