Police officers win landmark forced retirement case

CIPD: Five police forces, who used a efficiency-savings rule to compel hundreds of officers retire, have lost an age-discrimination claim that could force them pay out millions of pounds in compensation. The controversial A19 regulation was used by Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales police forces, to retire more than 250 officers to achieve savings of 20 per cent set out by government. Officers affected were those below chief officer rank with 30 years’ service.

Last summer The Police Superintendents’ Association for England and Wales (PSAEW) lost an appeal at the High Court, which judged the use of A19 to be lawful. However, the PSAEW argued that forced retirement of older workers would not contribute huge savings, and decided to press on with a case against the five forces. This latest decision – heard at the London Central Employment Tribunal – now means the five police forces involved have 42 days to appeal this decision or face a bill for millions in compensation.

Graham Cassidy, the PSAEW’s national secretary, said: “The decision is the culmination of a substantial amount of work from all those involved, including the former officers, their families, and all those who supported them throughout what was a devastating period in their lives. Although we are pleased with the result, nothing can make up for the loss to the country of hundreds of experienced officers whose careers were cut short unnecessarily via discriminatory means.”

Nottinghamshire Police Federation secretary Mick Taylor said both he and the officers involved had been “vindicated”. He added: “Our legal advisor will be writing to each former officer involved in the case.” But already there are signs the verdict will be challenged. Nottinghamshire chief constable Chris Eyre said he would be “actively considering” an appeal.

He added: “It was necessary for the police authority to consider the use of regulation A19 as a result of the wide-ranging austerity measures affecting public services. It was a very difficult decision for the authority and one which was taken after extensive consultation with officers who had 30 years’ pensionable service.”

Deputy chief constable Dave Thompson, of West Midlands Police, said: “We are actively considering an appeal. It was necessary for the Police Authority to consider the use of regulation A19 as a result of the austerity measures affecting public services. We note the decision of the employment tribunal and need some time to consider our position going forward.”

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