This was a test case in relation to police compulsory retirement under the A19 procedure.

The Facts 

Regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 permits Police Authorities to require the retirement of a Police Officer of the rank of Chief Superintendent or below if (a) their retention is not in the general interests of efficiency and (b) if the Police Officer has sufficient service to be entitled to a pension of two thirds average pensionable pay. Police Officers to whom A19 may be applied are generally at least 48 years old and have 30 years service.  

After the General Election in May 2010, the government imposed substantial budget cuts on the Police Forces. In order to comply with these austerity measures, the Police Forces decided that as 80% of their budget comprised staffing costs, it was necessary to reduce Police numbers. 

The Forces were advised by leading counsel that A19 could be used to remove a cohort of officers and was capable of justification. Seven police forces then used A19 to reduce headcount, applying it to nearly all A19 Police Officers unless their particular skills could not immediately be replaced.  

A large number of Police Officers, supported by trade unions, brought age discrimination claims against the Police Authorities. Five test cases were heard in the Employment Tribunal.  

The Decision

West Midlands Police admitted age discrimination. The Employment Tribunal focused on whether the application of A19 was objectively justifiable.  

The Tribunal found that although cost saving and increased efficiency were legitimate aims,  the use of A19 to require the retirement of nearly all the officers in the Police Forces who could be required to retire (except in cases where skills could not be immediately replaced) was not proportionate. The discriminatory effect caused the removal of a whole age group from the work force for a time.  

In addition, due to the fact that the majority of police officers would have retired in any event, the detriment for those who did not wish to retire was very severe. The end of their career in the Police Force was imposed upon them.

The Tribunal also noted that there was no record of any detailed consideration of justification and alternative solutions at Police Authority meetings; possible alternatives that were disregarded included asking Police Officers if they wished to retire, offering part-time working or career breaks.

The Tribunal held the application of A19 not objectively justifiable and consequently unlawful. The Claimants' claims of age discrimination were upheld.

For a copy of the judgment, click here.

This case is being appealed to the EAT. Click here for a news item about this.

Harrod and others v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and others, ET/1307406/2011