POLICE union bosses have revealed “astonishment” at new figures which show more than 800 officers have resigned since the launch of the single force in Scotland.
Over 800 police officers have left the Scottish force
Hundreds of others have been approved for voluntary redundancy and high absence rates in command and control centres are causing concern.
Bosses have also been criticised for Police Scotland’s recruitment and retention of female police officers.
Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents 98 per cent of rank and file officers, said: “The only reaction I can genuinely express is one of astonishment.
“In excess of 800 officers leaving the service through resignation is an astronomic number but clearly they do point to some significant issues the service needs to identify and address.
“Of course, it’s possible that morale was a consideration but I would be more concerned if the historic problem that the police service had in retaining women officers was a significant contributing factor in these numbers.”
Police Scotland, which is facing a funding gap of £85million in the next three years, is bound by a Scottish Government commitment to ensure officer numbers do not fall beneath 17,234.
Mr Steele insists the cost of losing hundreds of officers each year is a major concern, as more money will have to be spent on recruitment and training.
He said the public’s view of policing has “diminished” in the past nine years and added: “Governments have not been able to demonstrate their own confidence and belief in the police service simply because they’ve undertaken very pernicious attacks on general terms and conditions.
“The sad fact is the police service is no longer as attractive a career option as it once was.”
Alex Johnstone, the Scottish Tory candidate for Angus North and Mearns, said: “It is no surprise so many police are resigning. There is an enormous amount of stress on officers since the single force came into operation.
“With local police counters closing and call centre blunders, it is no surprise they’re feeling under pressure.
“The SNP need to be held to account on their failures.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The first police staff survey last year found that morale among rank and file officers was at rock bottom. These shocking resignation figures demonstrate clearly the scale of the challenge that our new Chief Constable is facing.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Looking at the last two full years, the turnover of police officers for the force sits around five per cent, voluntary resignations only equate to less than two per cent of the officer turnover per year. Comparatively, this is small and does not at this time give concern.”