Ayrshire’s top police officer has revealed that seven of the division’s ten frontline Inspectors are taking early retirement after changes to pension rules.

Since April, officers have been able to retire after 25 years services rather than 30 years without their pensions being affected.

They are also able to take a larger proportion of their pensions as a tax free lump sum.

This has led to hundreds of senior officers indicated they would take retirement five years early.

The issue was raised with Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain at a meeting of South Ayrshire Council’s Partnerships Panel recently.

SNP Councillor Ian Cochrane quizzed the Ayrshire Divisions chief.

He said: “There seems to be a tremendous amount of early retirements coming up because of the changes in pension provisions.

“Can you comment on the steps taken to address the skills and experience being lost from the force? What type of mitigations are you putting in place?”

Panel chair, Councillor Philip Saxton, also questioned the impact the situation would have on service delivery.

ChSupt. Hussain insisted that there would be no reduction in services across Ayrshire.

However, he acknowledged the challenge that faced the force.

He said: “It is a reflection of some of the challenges we face across Police Scotland.

“A number of colleagues have decided to take early retirement. Obviously they have accrued a significant amount of experience.”

ChSupt Hussain gave an example of the situation locally.

He said: “From an Ayrshire perspective, I have ten uniformed inspectors attached to response policing.

“Of the ten, seven of them are retiring.

“When the seven new replacements come in, we will look to support them as best as we possible can.”

He added that an operation had been set up to manage the high number of retirals to ensure no reduction in delivery for our communities across the country’.

Councillor Cochrane replied: “I am very happy that there seems to a firm handle on the process.”

Earlier this year the Scottish Police Federation, which represents officers, had warned that officers were ‘desparate to leave because of low morale and lack of job satisfaction.