Suffolk: Police union not ruling out age discrimination claim against Suffolk Constabulary
12:00 12 February 2014
Suffolk’s police federation has said it has not ruled out an age discrimination claim against the force after a landmark judgment.
The development comes after five police forces across England and Wales could now face paying out millions of pounds after a successful claim by officers forced to retire after 30 years.
A number of test cases were taken to the London Central Employment Tribunal on behalf of 250 officers, who were pushed out amid 20% budget cuts.
In Suffolk around 30 officers were compelled to leave as a result of Regulation A19 being implemented by the then Chief Constable Simon Ash in a bid to balance the books
Police federation members from Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales Police have brought the claims, as well as more senior ex-officers who are in the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW).
Hundreds of officers were made to leave their jobs in the wake of the budget cuts, and claimed they were indirectly discriminated against because of their age.
They were compelled to retire under A19, which was taken to mean that those below chief officer rank could be required to retire after 30 years “in the general interests of efficiency”.
At the time of implementation in 2011 Suffolk Constabulary said 29 officers would be affected.
Following the tribunal’s ruling Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation said: “There are a number of officers who left the organisation because of A19 or because they expected to be subject to A19 who have made contact with the federation office and asked what the situation is going forward.
“At this moment in time we are awaiting some advice from our national office.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he would be raising the matter with Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, and that he “would be watching developments with interest.”
Mr Paxton added: “Suffolk Constabulary is aware of the finding of the tribunal and will be monitoring the situation going forward.”
A panel of three employment tribunal judges has found that the use of A19 was “not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
Mick Taylor from Nottinghamshire Police Federation said: “We are pleased that our decision to support the legal action on behalf of our former colleagues has been vindicated.”
National Secretary of PSAEW Graham Cassidy said: “We obviously are delighted with the decision by the employment tribunal and we note that it was a unanimous decision by all of the judges. However, this is not a time for triumphalism.”
Nottinghamshire Police has said it is “actively considering” an appeal within the 42-day timelimit.