The search for Police Scotland’s next chief constable will start at the end of next month, it has been confirmed.
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the process to replace Phil Gormley would begin in earnest in the coming weeks, with the new chief expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Mr Gormley resigned in February while the subject of five separate investigations by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) amid allegations of bullying.
SPA chair Susan Deacon said the recruitment process would be launched alongside the search for a new chief executive of her own organisation.
She said: “The appointment of Scotland’s next chief constable is clearly of critical importance and is, quite rightly, a matter of significant public interest.
“We have taken time to consider carefully what is required of this post in the period to come and I have engaged in a wide range of discussions to help inform this process.
“The recruitment process for the chief constable will be launched by the end of May and, as previously reported, this will ensure that a new chief constable will be in place by the end of the year.”
Mr Gormley stepped down from his £214,000-a-year post with 10 months still to run on his contract.
He denied any wrongdoing and the five Pirc investigations into his conduct ceased following his resignation.
Mr Gormley’s deputy, Iain Livingstone, cancelled his own retirement plans and is regarded by some as the obvious replacement as chief constable.
Other names in the frame include Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne, a former head of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Child Exploitation and Online Protection command, and
George Hamilton, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and a former assistant chief constable of Strathclyde Police.
Whoever is appointed, the next chief constable will be required to operate within Police Scotland’s continuing budget constraints.
Documents published by the SPA show the force is predicting a deficit of £35.6m for the current financial year.
The force has also begun modelling for what is calls “capacity creation” by reducing police officer numbers.
Its financial plan assumes a reduction of 300 officers from April 1 next year.
Last year Police Scotland published 10-year strategy which included plans to reduce officer numbers by 400 officers by late 2020.
A long-standing SNP commitment to maintain officer numbers at 1,000 above 2007 levels was quietly dropped from the party’s 2016 manifesto, but the Scottish Government has repeatedly said it expects to see numbers remaining “significantly above” those it inherited more than a decade ago.