POLICE Scotland could be set to lose one third of senior officers through retirement in the next two years, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that 133 superintendents, 13 per cent of the force’s total, are eligible to retire in 2016, and a further 15 per cent are due for retirement the year after.

More than a quarter of chief superintendents are set to retire next year.

This could mean Police Scotland losing 55 of their 175 most senior staff between now and 2017, according to the Tories.

The figures come after a grim staff survey showed that morale amongst officers in Police Scotland was low, with a third of police officers saying they wanted to leave the force, and most of those claiming they did not feel valued in their work.

Half of those working for the force said their morale was hit by changes to pensions, which saw retirement age increase and an end to the final salary scheme.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said the statistics were “deeply concerning”, adding: “These individuals provide crucial leadership and bring considerable expertise to their day-to-day roles, which will be a great loss for the single force during this key period of transition.

“I know firsthand from officers that the high turnover of senior management is causing continuity problems.

“Regrettably, based on the force’s retirement projections, these only seem set to continue over the next couple of years. We need assurances from the new chief constable that measures are in place to recruit suitably qualified replacements and provide much-needed stability for the rank-and-file. After a difficult two years, it deserves nothing less.” A spokeswoman for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said: “The decision on when an officer decides to retire or move on is a personal one and it is not for the SPA to speculate in this regard. With responsibility for appointing Police Scotland’s senior leadership team, succession planning is an ongoing piece of our work.

“This is informed by regular dialogue with our senior officers and our officers are required to give the SPA a three-month notice period.

“In addition, the SPA identified as a top priority the finding from the staff survey that one in three of the workforce would consider leaving Police Scotland within the next three years.

“The SPA and Police Scotland have made clear their determination to fully address the issues raised by staff and to engage with the workforce on what the solutions to those issues should be. That engagement exercise is well under way and will inform a comprehensive plan of action which will be set out early in the new year.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have delivered 1,000 additional officers compared to 2007, in stark contrast to the situation in England and Wales, where police officer numbers have fallen by more than 15,000 (10.8 per cent) from March 2007 to March 2015.”