West Midlands Police have defended the decision to re-employ 17 retired officers, who have been paid at least £380,000 between them since returning to work.
It cost at least £2.1 million to provide the officers their pension lump sums when they retired and give them their annual payments.
They were all forced to retire as a result of £126 million of cuts imposed on West Midlands Police by the government.
Serving officers cannot be made redundant but police have a regulation, called A19, that allows them to make officers with more than 30 years service retire, even if they do not want to.
Bob Jones, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said the costs of the pension payments were not being met by the force but by the national police pension scheme instead, meaning the wage bill had been reduced by making the officers retire.
He said: “It is a way of balancing the budget for the West Midlands Police force but I am not sure it represents a good deal for the public purse as a whole. My responsibility is to ensure we have a balanced budget. Without A19 it would not have been possible to balance the budget in recent years.”
But Chris Rowson, head of human resources at the force, defended the re-employments and said: “We always look internally first for any job opportunities within the organisation to safeguard our employees. On occasions we have to advertise jobs externally. When we do it is in an open and transparent way.
“More than 1,000 police officer posts have been lost since the start of the Government’s austerity programme. Of these only 17 former officers who retired after 30 years service have returned to the force in a number of jobs.
“Posts which are externally advertised often demand specific experience or knowledge which ex-officers can offer and which helps the police serve the people of the West Midlands to the best of our ability.”
Eleven of the officers who retired then went back to work had more than 30 years’ service in the West Midlands force according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Two of them had been in the force between 25 and 30 years while one had 20-25 years service.
Another two had 15-20 years and the last had worked for West Midlands Polce for less than five years. A19 applied in all cases because their 30 years’ service could have included work at another police force or military service.