Police officers forced to retire to seek compensation

Police officer
Image caption Three of the four police forces in Wales are facing claims by former officers

Nearly 150 ex-police officers in Wales are seeking compensation after being forced to retire early.

They are among 1,335 senior officers in Wales and England forced to retire since 2010 under a controversial redundancy rule.

An employment tribunal last year ruled that the officers who were made to retire had suffered age discrimination.

Invoking the A19 rule saved more than £66m in wages for 15 forces in Wales and England, the BBC has found.

South Wales Police says there was no other option but to use rule A19 at the time, while North Wales Police and Gwent Police declined to comment as legal proceedings in relation to the issue are ongoing.

Dyfed Powys Police has not used rule A19 since 2010.

  • South Wales Police said 108 ex-officers dismissed since 2010 have made claims for compensation; 89 were forced to retire under rule A19. The total saved by dismissing these staff members was £7.7m.
  • North Wales Police said 19 officers were forced to retire under rule A19 since 2010 and it has received 31 claims by ex-officers alleging age discrimination. The force said it saved £1.1m by dismissing the officers.
  • Gwent Police says rule A19 was used to dismiss 16 officers in 2012/13, saving £1.5m in that year. The force said it has received nine compensation claims.
  • Dyfed Powys Police said that rule A19 has not been used since 2010.

BBC News sent requests under the Freedom of Information Act to all 43 forces in England and Wales.

A total of 28 forces said they did not use rule A19.

In February 2014, the London Central Employment Tribunal ruled that 250 officers who were made to retire under A19 had suffered age discrimination. In total, 830 further claims were made after this ruling.

'Balancing their books'

An appeal against that decision is due to be heard over three days at the Employment Appeal Tribunal from 11 March.

Pension lump sums paid to the retired officers in England and Wales topped £157m, according to figures released to the BBC.

Those costs were covered by the national Police Pension Fund Account, not individual police forces.

£13.1m was paid to retiring South Wales Police officers, £3.2m went to officers from North Wales Police and £2.3m was given to Gwent Police officers.

South Wales Police human resources director Mark Milton said: "The force was already undertaking redundancies amongst police staff, we had a recruitment freeze in place and cuts had been made to non-staff budgets.

"There was no alternative; A19 was the last resort to meet the immediate savings targets."

A Home Office spokesman said: "While we acknowledge that the police funding settlement is challenging, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has found the police are successfully meeting the challenge of balancing their books while protecting the front line and delivering reductions in crime.

"It is for chief officers, working with police and crime commissioners, to take operational decisions about the use of resources, including whether the use of Regulation A19 is appropriate for their force."

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