Police Scotland has announced a voluntary redundancy scheme for its staff as part of its efforts to reduce costs and meet the financial challenges ahead. The scheme, which was approved by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Board last week, will be open for applications from 8 January until 9 February 2023.
Why is Police Scotland launching the scheme?
Police Scotland is facing a budget deficit of £25.3 million for the current financial year, and expects further pressures in the coming years due to inflation, pay increases, and pension contributions. The force has already implemented various measures to save money, such as reducing overtime, travel, and training expenses, but these are not enough to close the gap.
The voluntary redundancy scheme is intended to offer staff an opportunity to leave the organisation on mutually agreed terms, while also helping the force to achieve its workforce planning objectives and align its resources with its operational priorities. Police Scotland hopes that the scheme will generate savings of £6.8 million in 2023-24 and £13.6 million in 2024-25.
Who is eligible for the scheme?
The scheme is open to all police staff, except those who are in critical roles or have skills that are essential for the delivery of policing services. These include staff who work in areas such as forensics, cybercrime, intelligence, and counter-terrorism. The scheme is also not available to police officers, who are subject to different terms and conditions.
Staff who are interested in applying for the scheme will have to submit a business case, which will be assessed by their line manager and senior management. The final decision will be made by the Chief Constable, who will consider the impact of the staff member’s departure on the organisation and the public.
The scheme offers staff a lump sum payment based on their length of service and salary, up to a maximum of 66 weeks’ pay and £10,000. Staff who are over 55 and have at least two years of pensionable service can also opt for voluntary early retirement, which will provide them with a reduced pension and a lump sum.
What are the implications of the scheme?
The scheme is expected to result in the loss of around 300 staff, which will reduce the total number of police staff to around 5,400. This will have an effect on the capacity and capability of the force, and may require some changes in the way policing services are delivered.
Police Scotland has assured that it will not compromise on the quality and safety of its services, and that it will continue to invest in its staff and technology to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. The force has also stated that it will not resort to compulsory redundancies, and that it will support staff who choose to leave the organisation with their career transition and wellbeing.
The scheme has received mixed reactions from the staff and their representatives. Some staff have welcomed the opportunity to leave the organisation with a generous package, while others have expressed concerns about the impact of the scheme on their colleagues and the public. The Scottish Police Federation, which represents police officers, has criticised the scheme as a short-term solution that will undermine the morale and performance of the force.