One in three senior Scottish police officers could retire over pension charges

Police Scotland officers
Police Scotland officers - K Neville/iStock

One in three senior Scottish police officers could quit their jobs in a row over pensions, the organisation that represents them has warned.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) has taken the “unprecedented” step of raising a formal dispute with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority over changes they say could cost their members thousands of pounds.

The force’s “senior leaders”, superintendents or chief superintendents, backed the move unanimously in a poll.

The organisation said a decision to charge interest on a sum which allows officers to access additional benefits following pensions reforms was “profoundly unfair”.

Rob Hay, ASPS president, said that senior officers were “fuming” and many members would retire rather than incur further interest payments.

“This is an unprecedented step, but we are clearly speaking as a united voice,” he said. “The service relies on the goodwill of our members and that is clearly being lost.

“There is a real risk that a large number of them will vote with their feet. Our members who are over 50 years of age and have over 25 years [service], who wish to avoid incurring further interest payments on their pensions, can and will retire.”

Reforms in public sector pensions led to police officers moving to the Career Average Revalued Earning scheme, paying lower contributions, in 2015.

‘What a terrible shame to the force’

A 2018 court ruling known as the McCloud judgment found there had been age discrimination for some officers and they were offered a sum known as the pension remedy.

In order to access the pension remedy, the officers had to pay in extra money which they would have done under the old scheme.

The ASPS says exact figures are not available but someone who was a superintendent between 2015 and 2022 would pay around £9,000, which they can pay over time or defer until retirement.

Mr Hay said that senior officers are being charged interest on this sum, under direction from the Treasury, meaning some could be hit with 50 per cent increases.

He added: “An incredible amount of experience and talent that could just walk out of the door. What a terrible shame to force these proud police officers out of service due to a financial decision and a basic principle of fairness.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said the force would work closely with staff to “support the implementation of the remedy and minimise the impact to those affected”.

He added: “We understand how important the pension scheme is as part of the total reward package for our colleagues and the significance that pension changes may well have had on the personal circumstances and wellbeing of those impacted.”