A19 police retirements not age discrimination – Court of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal has ruled that police forces’ use of Regulation A19, which required police officers with more than 30 years’ pensionable service to retire, did not amount to age discrimination.

The judgment in Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and others v Harrod and others is yet to be published, but the case was dismissed yesterday in court. Full analysis will be published on XpertHR when the ruling is made available.

The ruling upholds a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal to overturn the original 2014 judgment that requiring officers to retire under Regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 is not “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim,” a justification for discrimination under the Equality Act.

The A19 rule allows police forces to make an officer of the rank of chief superintendent or below to retire “in the general interests of efficiency”.

As well as West Midlands Police, forces in North Wales, South Wales, Nottinghamshire, and Devon and Cornwall were involved in the claim.

Just under 100 officers left Nottinghamshire Police in 2011-12 under the A19 rule. Deputy chief constable Simon Torr said: “The decision made, by the command team at the time, to employ Regulation A19 was very difficult and followed extensive consultation.

“It is without question that we lost some very talented, experienced and dedicated officers during this period and we do not underestimate the impact on the officers, their families and the force as a whole.

“However, it was at that time of deep austerity in which the organisation had little other option to meet the financial demands and this measure was seen as a last resort.”

Dave Keen, chairman of Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said: “We note the decision of the Court of Appeal and are disappointed for our former members. We recognise this decision was taken at the time of challenging austerity and are equally aware that there are still difficult times ahead for Nottinghamshire Police.

“In that respect we accept the decision and look forward to working with the force to obtain the very best for our members.”

Devon and Cornwall Police chief constable Shaun Sawyer said: “The use of A19 was a very difficult decision which resulted in us losing some very experienced, committed and able police officers at all ranks.

“This ruling does not represent a case has been won, because in reality, the force lost hugely dedicated and loyal members of our police family who served the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

This ruling does not represent a case has been won, because in reality, the force lost hugely dedicated and loyal members of our police family” – Shaun Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police.

“It was always likely this would have significant impact on people who had dedicated themselves to serving this force and the people of Devon and Cornwall for many years, but the force felt there was no viable alternative to meet the enormous financial challenges we faced then, and continue to face in 2017.”

Tim Jackson, national secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said it was disappointed that the Court of Appeal has dismissed the case: “The association believes Regulation A19 was never intended for use en masse. We supported this appeal, and the legal action before it, as we believed that Regulation A19 was unfairly and unlawfully applied to our former members and led to the premature and discriminatory loss of their livelihoods.

“On this basis, as a staff association it is our duty to support our former members who were affected by the mass use of Regulation A19.

“These were very experienced police officers who still had much to contribute to policing and who felt they were treated unfairly in being forced to retire even though they were able, and willing, to serve their communities for years to come.”

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