Fears of multi-million pound payout for Suffolk Constabulary subside after action by ex-officers
Fears of a potential seven-figure payout for Suffolk Constabulary over the compulsory retirement of more than 30 police officers look as if they have receded.
In February last year ex-officers from five police forces elsewhere in the country successfully won an age discrimination claim over losing their jobs through the previously unused regulation A19.
This was done due to the need for cost-cutting after reductions in their Government grant.
The forces involved in the London Central Employment Tribunal case were Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales.
Retired officers from other constabularies, including Suffolk, were also involved in civil claims which hinged on the result of the case.
Around 32 former Suffolk officers, who served between the rank of constable to superintendent, had submitted a claim through Leeds solicitors Rebian.
After the five forces won their case the finding was appealed by the constabularies involved.
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The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now overturned the original tribunal finding following a hearing which was held in March.
The ruling looks as if it will bring matters to an end, although Rebian has not ruled out an appeal.
Rebecca Townsend, Partner of Rebian Solicitors, said: “The decision is disappointing. My main concern is for our clients, the individuals who were significantly impacted when they were dismissed through the use of Regulation A19.
“This appeal decision will be a devastating blow for them and will only seek to add to their distress.
“However, we are currently considering the judgment in detail and reviewing its content to assess the merits of an appeal. As a result we are not in a position to provide any further comments at this stage.”
In 2011 the dormant regulation A19 was implemented by a number of forces around the country including Suffolk.
It enabled them to compulsorily retire officers after 30 years’ service when they became eligible to claim their full pensions.
Originally there were around 30 officers in the first batch of those made subject to A19 in Suffolk who would have completed the requisite number of years by March 2012.
It is understood that number increased to around 45 as a further 15 or so officers were also made subject to A19 in the following six months.
Although A19 was a controversial regulation, Suffolk Constabulary said advice it had been given was that it was lawful to implement it as part of a multi-million package of cost-saving measures.
The High Court also ruled its use as legal.