Fast-track veterans into the police, Conservatives urge

13 April 2018, 07:19

Territorial Army

Servicemen and women preparing to leave the armed forces should be fast-tracked into Police Scotland to boost staff, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

The party's veterans spokesman Maurice Corry wants trial schemes near areas which had large military communities.

His plan involves veterans joining the force as special constables with a view to further promotion.

The positions are voluntary and generally part-time, with expenses covered.

The party said last month the number of special constables have more than halved since 2013, dropping from 1,387 to 610.

Mr Corry said his proposal would help increase policing staff and give those leaving the armed forces a way back into the civilian workforce.

He previously looked at the idea as a councillor in Helensburgh, which is near the Faslane naval base and said it was "warmly received" by both veterans and police.

He will now prepare a formal proposal on the trial schemes.

Mr Corry said: "This proposal would address two issues of huge importance.

"It would help boost the number of special constables, which has more than halved in the last five years.

"But it would also provide a vital transitional link for people leaving the armed forces and contemplating their next move in life.

"These people will be fit, active and value the idea of uniformity and being involved to help the public good, and that's something we should make use of."

He added: "I believe a trial could be launched in any area where there's a strong military veteran presence, from Helensburgh to Moray.

"The idea's been warmly received in the past from both veterans and the police, and it's something I now intend to pursue again."

Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said special constable numbers have changed in recent years as many joined the police full time and others who have been inactive for long periods have left, following review.

He added: "We are currently in the process of developing plans to recruit and train special constables in local communities across Scotland rather than centrally, and we anticipate that this will make the Special Constabulary more accessible to many people.

"We recognise the valuable contribution that members of the armed forces make to public service and the transferable skills they bring to policing.

"We actively encourage applications from service leavers keen to make a real difference in communities right across Scotland."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The recruitment of police constables is a matter for Police Scotland, and overall officer numbers remain at historically high levels.

"Armed forces veterans have a range of transferable skills that are welcomed by employers in Scotland and we remain committed to ensuring that all veterans living in Scotland are able to access the best possible support in their lives going forward, particularly when it comes to employment opportunities."