Police Scotland’s 40,000 years of lost experience

26 Dec 2016

Police Scotland has lost at least 40,000 years of experience from departing officers since the organisation’s creation, research has revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives has shown, since April 2013, there have been 1426 police men and women leave the force whose length of service spans between 26 and 30 years.

In addition, a further 99 have left who have been police officers for more than 30 years, showing the scale of the loss of experience within Police Scotland.

Concern has been raised previously about the number of discontented staff working for the single force, with a survey in 2015 showing one in three wanted to leave within three years.

And anecdotally, others have highlighted the high number of experienced officers opting to leave.

The research has also revealed 310 officers have left after accumulating between just zero and two years’ experience, with a further 239 quitting after being with the organisation between three and five years.

In total, Police Scotland said 3159 left the force from its creation in April 2013.

The Greater Glasgow area had the highest number of departures, with 382, followed by the North East (286) and Edinburgh (198).

The specialist crime unit has had 285 officers leave, while operational support has lost 238.

The Police Scotland response also revealed 24 officers have died while still registered as an officer, and 88 have transferred to a separate police force outwith Scotland.

The numbers set out do not take into consideration new officers joining the force.

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 3000 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.

“It’s essential Police Scotland has a balanced demographic going forward, and doesn’t shun the experience those longer serving officers bring.”

The below table shows the age groups of officers who’ve departed Police Scotland since its creation. The 40,000 years figure was arrived at by multiplying 26 (the most conservative calculation of that age bracket) with 1426, which makes 37,076 years, then adding 2970, which is the sum of 30 (again, the most conservative calculation for that 30+ age bracket) multiplied by 99.

Length of service:

0-2 years – 310
3-5 years – 239
6-10 years – 349
11-15 years – 230
16-20 years – 233
21-25 years – 273
26-30 years – 1426
30+ years – 99

Total – 3159

To see a full copy of the FoI response, visit:

Surveys have shown one in three want to leave Police Scotland: