Scotland’s national police force is facing a staff timebomb with almost a third of senior officers poised to retire over the next two years, it has emerged.
There are now concerns of “continuity problems” which is already beginning to affect operations.
But police chiefs last night insisted that the incoming Chief Constable Phil Gormley will help “renergise” officers and staff and face the challenges which the force faces.
It comes at the end of a year of turmoil for the force which has seen its first Chief Constable Sir Stephen House quit after a series of controversies over stop and search powers, armed policing and call centre efficiency problems.
New figures unveiled by the Scottish Conservatives today show that of the force’s 133 superintendents, 13 per cent are eligible to retire in 2016, with a further 15 per cent due for retirement the year after.
The figures are much higher for Scotland’s 42 chief superintendents, with more than a quarter set to retire next year and a further 14 per cent in 2017. It means the organisation could lose 55 of its 175 most senior staff between now and 2017.
Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “The fact that almost one third of the Police Scotland’s senior officers are set to retire over the next two years is deeply concerning.
“These individuals provide crucial leadership and bring considerable expertise to their day-to-day roles, which will be a great loss for the single force during this key period of transition.
“I know firsthand from officers that the high turnover of senior management is causing continuity problems.
“Regrettably, based on the force’s retirement projections these only seem set to continue over the next couple of years.”
On the back of Sir Stephen’s decision to go, the force’s watchdog body, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) also saw its chairman Vic Emery stand down. But a spokesman for the SPA insisted “succession planning” for the force’s senior leadership team is ongoing. It has also identified as a “top priority” addressing the staff survey findings that a third of the workforce would consider leaving within three years.