Ninety-six retired officers from Devon and Cornwall Police are taking the force to Employment Tribunal in May arguing its use of regulation A19 is unjust.
The regulation forcibly retires officers once they have served for 30 years and was implemented by the force to counter funding cuts from central government.
But the officers, backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales and the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, will claim a lack of consultation over its use and indirect age discrimination.
However, a pre-trial hearing will firstly need to decide whether police officers are regulated by certain employment laws on May 8 and 9.
If it decides they are, the cases can go ahead with only a number of them required to be used as “test precedents” on behalf of others. This means it would be easier for other claims in relation to A19 to be settled quickly, although the individual circumstances of each case are still likely to be taken into consideration concerning judgements.
Currently officers come under the banner of “Office of Constable” and, generally, do not have the protections of Employment law. Conditions of service are officially protected under the Police Regulations 2003.
Chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, Nigel Rabbits, said he was hopeful as the Equality Act 2010 seemed to apply to officers even though they did not have full employment rights.
He said: “There is a difference of counsel opinion like anything in life. The one thing we think is in our favour is that the Equality Act does apply to police officers so we are finding it difficult to see why anything else wouldn’t really apply. We can see the legal arguments and we are hopeful that they will be protected by certain parts of the legislation.”
Mr Rabbits said on average 11 officers were launching claims against the force each month - as they left as a result of A19.
He said if the pre-hearing decided against the claimants, they would have to pursue the matter by other legal means.
The first legal argument concerning a lack of consultation would be made under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Relations Act 1992 – where the officers will be supported by the Police Federation of England and Wales.
The second argument for indirect age discrimination would come under the Equality Act 2010 – where the officers will be supported by the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation alongside Nottinghamshire Police Federation.
Nottinghamshire Police Federation said it would be representing around 70 officers.
Secretary Mick Taylor said: “Our view is it (A19) has been done on a financial saving rather than an efficiency saving. We understand where the force is coming from but that doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with A19.”
Nottinghamshire Police has stopped using the regulation for the time being.
Mr Rabbitts added that officers had wanted to continue serving.
He said: “We have traditionally recruited from the armed services or transferees from other forces so a huge proportion of those have only served 27 years with the force and are at an age of 48 to 50.
“They are the most experienced officers in the service and force performance is suffering because of it.”
PoliceOracle.com also understands that the Superintendents’ Association is backing claims from senior officers. However, the Association was unavailable for comment as this story went live.
A police spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “As a result of budgetary pressures it has been necessary for the force to implement Regulation A19 and to compulsorily retire officers who have completed 30 years pensionable service.
“When the force took the decision to implement A19 it was always with the intention to review the situation annually and these discussions have now taken place with the Police Authority.
“It has been decided that the force will continue to use the regulation during 2012/13 in order to continue to meet the savings required by the comprehensive spending review, subject to a review in September.
“We have received a number of employment tribunal claims, which we expect to be heard later in the year.
“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 Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson said: “There are a large number of cases being brought against those Forces and Police Authorities which have used the provisions of Regulation A19, of which Nottinghamshire is one example.
"The cases are being overseen by the London Central Employment Tribunal and we await the outcome of the hearing."
Article from Oracle