A new charge is being imposed on police housing, sparking fears it will push officers out of rural and remote areas.
The occupancy charge could range from £200 to £600 depending on house sizes, according to policing publication 1919 Magazine.
Police Scotland says the charge will still be much less than the cost of maintaining the houses, which are mainly in the Highlands, islands and Argyll.
The Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the special housing is needed in areas with a high cost of living and popular with tourists.
“They’ve suddenly got this extra charge to pay which they haven’t budgeted for so lots of them are saying, I can’t afford that so I’m going to have to leave,” said Caroline Macnaughton, north area secretary of the SPF.
“They’re going to end up struggling to provide police resources in these rural areas.”
‘Half would consider moving’
The SPF had earlier surveyed staff who live in police housing.
The result suggests 38% would try to transfer if a charge was imposed. Half would at least consider moving.
Ms Macnaughton added: “Some of them in really remote areas live in houses attached to the police station, so day and night people knock on the door of the house, whether the officer’s in pyjamas or whatever because they know it’s the police station and they know the officer lives attached to it.”
Police Scotland has to meet a multimillion-pounds historic tax liability on its housing by April 1.
A significant refurbishment programme is under way to improve existing housing stock.
– Police Scotland.
The new charge will not be imposed on housing which is not up to standard – a separate problem he SPF says is making life hard for officers.
An estimated charge will be based on social housing rents. Three months notice will be given before the charge is imposed.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland maintains a large volume of police housing and it is vital that the provision of this accommodation is sustainable and makes the best use of resources. A significant refurbishment programme is underway to improve existing housing stock and ensure it is sustainable.
“Police housing occupancy charges will be competitive compared to the private rental or mortgage market and Police Scotland will not make a profit by collecting an occupancy charge. We are continuing to proactively engage with officers on this.”