Women are significantly underrepresented across senior roles in Scotland’s police force, new analysis has found.

Freedom of information requests by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to Police Scotland found there were twice as many male police officers (11,064) as female officers (5,549) in autumn 2023.

The party says the disparity among officers ranked above inspector is even larger with 900 men and 350 women.

Read more: We must have a complete overhaul of Police Scotland

Wendy Chamberlain MP, deputy leader of the party and a former police officer, warned that a lack of proper funding could obstruct progress in increasing diversity on the force.

Top roles among civilian staff remain male-dominated with 58 men reaching Grade 11 and above, compared with 34 women – despite women outnumbering men by 3,621 to 2,247 according to the figures from September 2023.

The Herald: Former police officer Wendy Chamberlain MP has called for Police Scotland to do moreFormer police officer Wendy Chamberlain MP has called for Police Scotland to do more (Image: PA)

Ms Chamberlain said: “This is an area where Police Scotland need to do more. It was an area that the 2018 Angiolini Review highlighted and the outgoing chief constable agreed.

“As Police Scotland goes forward under Jo Farrell’s new leadership, it must reflect on these numbers, closely and carefully, and take meaningful steps to ensure that the police service is as diverse as the public it serves.

“Within the service, staff surveys should be regularly on offer so that issues can be identified early on and discriminatory practices and behaviours rooted out.

“However, encouraging more women into the national force will be especially difficult in an environment where it hasn’t been properly funded.

“The Scottish Government need to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that the service has the support and resources that it needs to keep communities safe and that officers and staff are able to live up to their full potential.”

Read more: Police not to investigate all crime in Scotland from April 2024

A Police Scotland spokesperson said the force is taking "proactive steps" to recruit more women.

They said: “Police Scotland continues to work towards creating an inclusive and fair working environment that is free from discrimination, misogyny and sexism.

“We have women leading at every level in Police Scotland and we continue to take proactive steps to recruit more women.

“There have also been additional changes such as providing gender-specific body armour, better support for flexible working, new grievance procedures and ensuring selection panels reflect our diversity.

“We continue to review and assess our policies and procedures to guarantee we are inclusive, anti-discriminatory and a fair organisation for all.

“The police officer job is unique and we look to recruit people who will live by our values of integrity, fairness, respect, and are committed to upholding human rights.”

Read more: Police numbers fall to lowest level in Scotland since 2008

A Scottish Government spokesperson said police officer recruitment is a matter for the Chief Constable. 

The spokesperson said: “We support the work Police Scotland are doing to ensure its workforce reflects and represents the communities it serves, as set out in its Policing Together Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

“Despite deeply challenging financial circumstances, our budget for next year includes record police funding of £1.55 billion – an increase of £92.7 million. Scotland continues to have more police officers per head of population than England and Wales and recorded crime is at one of the lowest levels since 1974.

“Police Scotland is responsible for policing in Scotland and is held to account by the Scottish Police Authority. It is governed separately from other police forces in the UK including the Metropolitan Police.”