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Staffordshire Police officers 'forced' to retire in payout bid

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Almost every officer forcibly retired by Staffordshire Police has lodged a compensation claim against the force since an employment tribunal ruling that the move was not justified, it can be revealed today.

The force used the A19 regulation from November 30 2011 to January 1 last year to forcibly retire officers with 30 years' service because serving officers cannot be made redundant.

Fears have been raised that forces could have to pay out a large compensation bill after 22 senior officers from the West Midlands won an employment tribunal case at the High Court saying the move was not justified. Even though no Staffordshire officers were involved in the original employment tribunal claims, the force has now received notice of claims from 74 former officers, since the ruling. That is only four officers fewer than the total numbers to leave the force thanks to the use of A19.

A Staffordshire Police spokesperson said: "In February 2014, the London Central Employment Tribunal ruled against five forces who implemented Regulation A19 of the Police Pension Regulations 1987, to compulsorily retire police officers reaching 30 years full pensionable service. Staffordshire Police was not one of the five test cases.

"This was a lengthy and complex case during which many key aspects of law relating to indirect discrimination were subject to detailed legal argument. In Staffordshire, the decision to implement A19 was an extremely difficult one, made out of necessity to help the force meet the financial challenges it faced.

"Whilst no Staffordshire officers were involved in the original employment tribunal claims, the force has since received a Notice of a Claim listing 74 claims and have referred this to our Legal Services Department to respond and assess.

"At this point we are still unclear how many of these cases may result in a successful claim."

The West Midlands force implemented the same regulation between December 2010 and December 2013 to forcibly retire 591 officers with 30 years' service.

It is now feared the force could face a multi-million pound compensation bill – reported to be as high as £15m - from claims from those retired officers. The Express & Star revealed last year that the pension lump sum payouts for the 591 officers to leave the West Midlands force cost £71.3m. That is on top of £12.4m being paid out annually in pensions to those officers.

The West Midlands force, the second biggest in the country behind the Met, shaved £37m off its wage bill by losing the senior officers. The Staffordshire force cut its wage bill by £4.8m.

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