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Applications to join Police Scotland fall by more than half in a year

Applications to join Police Scotland fell by more than half in a year (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Applications to join Police Scotland fell by more than half in a year (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of applications to join Police Scotland dropped by more than half last year, figures show.

There were 2,237 applications in 2021/22, down from 5,611 the previous year and 4,228 in 2019/20.

The data was revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the justice and social affairs magazine, 1919.

On Friday, the Scottish Police Federation began what it called its “most overt demonstration of action” in 100 years as officers withdrew their goodwill in a pay dispute.

While police officers are legally prevented from taking industrial action, they will not start their shifts early or take radio equipment home when their duty ends.

Further talks between the Federation and the Scottish Government are expected to take place on Monday.

The Federation’s general secretary, Calum Steele, said: “Policing is clearly becoming a less attractive as a career choice, which could be down to issues around pay, funding and falling numbers of officers putting more strain on available resources.

“We are aware there is a very buoyant jobs market in the UK just now and the police service is competing against a whole variety of other professions and industries.

“Clearly, issues around pay and reward and flexibility are playing a part in the falling numbers of applications.”

Police Scotland Superintendent Simon Wright encouraged those interested to pursue a career in policing.

He said: “The police service, like many other large organisations, has been dealing with the impact of Covid over the past two years which limited our recruitment and training for a period of time.

“However, despite the pandemic, we have continued to recruit people, wishing to make a commitment to Police Scotland, and importantly, we have successfully met all our recruitment intakes.

“Since the start of 2022, we have received 1,755 new applications and have increased police officer recruitment by 50%, bringing around 300 new police officers into policing on every intake.

“This is scheduled to continue throughout 2022 and this summer will see a recruitment campaign being launched which seeks to encourage and further support new applicants across the whole of Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Police officer numbers in Scotland remain significantly up from 2007, and are favourable relative to elsewhere in the UK with around 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland compared to around 23 officers per 10,000 population in England and Wales.

“It is normal for officer numbers to fluctuate and the current figures were impacted by use of the Police Scotland training college as a base for UK officers during Cop26, as well as the ongoing impact of coronavirus restrictions.

“Despite UK Government austerity, we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016/17 and have invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.”

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