Police forces could be forced to pay out millions of pounds in compensation to former officers who have won age discrimination claims after being forced to retire.
A ruling on test cases brought on behalf of 250 officers found that five chief constables improperly used police regulations to get rid of the officers on age grounds.
A panel of three employment judges found that use of the regulation, known as A19, was “not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
A19 allows forces to require officers below chief officer rank to retire after 30 years “in the general interests of efficiency”.
Police Federation members from Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales Police brought the claims, as well as more senior ex-officers who are in the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW).
The forces have 42 days to appeal against the decision.
Graham Cassidy, the national secretary of PSAEW, 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. There are no winners here. Each of these five test cases represents a police officer at the peak of their service, all of them receiving outstanding annual appraisals for their performance, who were cast aside as a result of what we now know to be an unlawful application of A19.”
Chris Eyre, the chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said the force was “actively considering” an appeal.
“It was necessary for the police authority to consider the use of regulation A19 as a result of the wide ranging austerity measures affecting public services,” he said.
“This was a very difficult decision for the authority and one which was taken after extensive consultation with officers who had 30 years’ pensionable service and the relevant staff associations.
“We note the decision of the employment tribunal and need some time to consider our position. We are actively considering an appeal and therefore unable to comment further at this time.”
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “The use of A19 has always been a difficult choice for chief constables, who are having to make significant savings while doing all they can to protect the frontline as far as possible.
“We take great interest in today’s ruling and will be discussing the issue of regulation A19 at the next chief constables’ council.”
Article from Telegraph