West Midlands Police has paid out more than £2.5 million to 207 officers who were forced into early retirement in a scheme which has since been declared unlawful.
The generous “exit packages” handed over during the last two years were revealed after a change in accounting requirements forced police to list all of the pay outs in the annual accounts.
The figures, not including pension payments, show in 2012/13 146 officers shared out £1.69 million, with one of those officers paid out £106,000 and another receiving a lump sum of £93,000.
Two others shared out between £145,000 between them. A further 61 officers shared out £857,000 in 2013/14. The force used the controversial A19 regulation between 2010 and 2013 to forcibly retire officers with 30 years of service.
Despite the payouts already made the force could still yet be hit with a multi-million pound bill for age discrimination. In February, 22 senior officers won an employment tribunal case.
At the time of losing the case, the force had been facing legal action from just 22 senior officers, but since the tribunal decision there have been nearly 500 retrospective claims for age discrimination.
The former officers are taking the force to court for unlawfully curtailing their careers. Many of the cases have been lodged after the three-month time limit for employment tribunals, but legal experts say a court could still decide to allow the cases.
The tribunal had ruled the use of A19 was not justified and that the former officers had been unlawfully discriminated against.
The ruling said the “practice of requiring the retirement of nearly all officers” eligible under A19 – including all those up to the rank of chief superintendent with 30 years of service – was not proportionate
West Midlands Police is appealing against the decision and has previously refused to comment on claims that compensation and legal costs could top £15 million.
The force imposed A19 as a cost-cutting to terminate the careers of 600 officers. It has been forced to shave 20 per cent off its budget since 2010, with cuts totalling £126 million, and in the current financial year it is expected to make further cuts of around £23 million.
Only four other forces used the same regulation to save cash – Nottinghamshire, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales. Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson had said: “It was necessary for the police authority to consider the use of regulation A19 as a result of the wide ranging austerity measures.
“Had there been other viable alternatives the police authority would not have made the difficult decision to implement A19.”
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said the force was still waiting for a date for when an appeal could be heard.
She added: “We are expecting a date for this case to be heard towards the end of this year or into the beginning of next year.
“We have now received 497 claims in total. All of those claims are stayed pending the employment appeals tribunal.
Article from Birmingham Post