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Drain on numbers fear as Australian force bids to recruit Scottish police

There are fears some Scottish officers will be tempted to work in Australia (Andrew Milligan/PA)
There are fears some Scottish officers will be tempted to work in Australia (Andrew Milligan/PA)

An Australian police force is targeting officers from the UK as part of an international recruitment drive, leading to fears some will leave Police Scotland.

Western Australia Police Force has launched a campaign specifically seeking applicants from the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

Those who apply can go on a pathway towards Australian citizenship, which can be otherwise difficult to acquire due to its immigration system.

The Australian force’s police commissioner, Col Blanch, said he wanted “skilled, experienced constables to work on the frontline to help us cover the biggest policing jurisdiction in the world”.

Fife Police Feature
Some constables are already said to have left Police Scotland (David Cheskin/PA)

One Scottish Police Federation representative told the justice affairs magazine, 1919, that Scottish officers have previously been lured away by Australian forces.

He said: “We lost some really good officers in the past to Down Under.

“Some returned but many made a really good life for themselves. This is another drain on our experience.”

Jamie Greene, justice spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, said the recruitment drive should be a warning for Scottish ministers.

Conservative leadership bid
Keith Brown said police in Scotland are paid more than their counterparts in England (Lesley Martin/PA)

He said: “This news should set alarm bells ringing for Keith Brown and the SNP.

“Their failures to fully fund frontline policing services has led to officer numbers already hitting their lowest levels since 2008.

“Now the SNP run the risk of losing more talented and hardworking officers to the other side of the world as they plan to impose more terrifying cuts on our police.

“Losing more officers will only put more strain on their overwhelmed colleagues and put public safety at risk.

“Keith Brown cannot continue to ignore these warnings that Scottish police officers are currently finding alternative offers more attractive and urgently reverse his plans to cut police funding even more.”

However, Justice Secretary Keith Brown said salaries at Police Scotland remained competitive.

He said: “Police officers play a vital and valued role and we have recognised that by ensuring they are the best paid in the UK.

“The basic starting salary of a constable is higher in Scotland than in England and Wales – as is the maximum salary.

“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.

“Police Scotland has welcomed around 900 new recruits this year and we have a higher number of officers per head of population than England and Wales and more officers now than in March 2007.”