Police officers' mental health 'affected by forced retirement'

The mental health of some former police officers has been "severely affected" by compulsory retirement, an ex-Devon and Cornwall Police inspector has said.

Norman Amey said the use of regulation A19, which forcibly retired those who had served 30 years, had "disempowered" some as young as 48.

The force implemented A19 in a bid to save £47m over the next four years.

Ninety of those affected are taking the force to an employment tribunal scheduled to start in May.

'Robust' defence

Mr Amey said: "Some of these guys joined when they were 18 so they're only 48, they're young, fit and healthy. For them it's a real shock, they've been disempowered.

"When you're told you're no longer required that can really impact upon your self esteem.

"I have colleagues who are receiving mental health care as a direct result of receiving their A19 notice, so for some people it is a huge thing."

Devon and Cornwall Police said it had to enforce A19 to meet budget cuts.

In a statement, the force said: "We have explored and implemented alternative ways to improve our efficiency and would be unable to continue to reduce our officer numbers to meet our plan without the use of Regulation A19.

"We believe, in accordance with legal advice that we have sought along with a number of other forces, that our use of A19 is legal, appropriate and necessary, and we will be robustly defending the claims."

A pre-hearing trial will take place on 8 May to decide whether police officers are regulated by employment law or not.

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it was supporting the 90 officers who will claim age discrimination and a failure to properly consult on the move.

Nigel Rabbitts, regional chairman, said: "Officers have always been given the choice of when to leave.

"They are experienced, well-trained and they've had considerable financial investment put into them, and they are the mentors of the young officers.

"The force isn't actually recruiting any officers either and so it is a net loss and therefore this will eventually impact on service delivery."

Under proposals approved in February 2011 , up to 600 officer posts and 500 civilian support staff posts face being cut by 2015.

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