Suffolk Constabulary could face seven-figure payout if more than 30 ex-officers win legal battle over compulsory retirement

Police Investigation Centre at Martlesham Heath Police HQ.

Police Investigation Centre at Martlesham Heath Police HQ. - Credit: Archant

Cash-strapped Suffolk Constabulary could face a seven-figure payout if legal claims by 32 former officers forced to leave due to cost-cutting succeed.

In 2011, due to the need to make savings, a previously unused regulation called A19 was implemented by a number of forces around the country. 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.

Those affected ranged from constables to superintendents.

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Although A19 was a controversial regulation, Suffolk Constabulary said checks had revealed it was lawful to implement it as part of a multi-million package of cost-saving measures. These were required due to a shortfall in the constabulary’s Government grant.

In 2012 the High Court ruled A19 was lawful.

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However, last February ex-officers from five police forces Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales successfully won an age discrimination claim over them losing their jobs through compulsorily retirement under A19.

The London Central Employment Tribunal made the ruling on behalf of 250 officers who were made to retire under the regulation, which stated those below chief officer rank could be required to retire after 30 years “in the general interests of efficiency”.

The trailblazing victory paved the way for former officers from other forces to pursue their claims.

The Tribunal’s decision is now being contested and an appeal is due to be heard over three days next month.

Should the appeal fail it could open the floodgates for financial claims by any officer who had not wanted to leave his or her job.

Suffolk Constabulary has confirmed 32 retired officers have submitted claims for compensation following the use of A19 and these are now subject to on-going legal cases.

It is understood the claims are being handled by a firm of solicitors in Leeds.

One of the ex-Suffolk officers who has made a claim said: “We are doing this for a number of reasons. We feel aggrieved that we had to be forcibly made to retire from a career we enjoyed and got a great deal of satisfaction from.

“There is a financial element to the claim because some people have actually lost money and have been unable to find employment or have had to take lesser paid jobs.

“We would hope if we are successful in our claims that this will provide some sort of redress.”

Suffolk Constabulary said it could not comment as the legal case was still ongoing.

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