Collins: 'No alternative' to plan to force over 50 police officers out of jobs
THE former chairman of the Notts Police Authority says there was no practical alternative to plans to force officers out of their jobs after 30 years' service.
Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and former police authority chairman, said yesterday that the move had been implemented in a clear and fair process.
Notts Police is one of five forces being taken to employment tribunals after hundreds of officers were made to leave in the wake of budget cuts.
Triggered by the Government's comprehensive spending review, officers below chief officer rank with 30 years' service were forced into retirement under a policy called regulation A19.
Central London Employment Tribunal is hearing test cases on behalf of officers affected, who claim they were discriminated against on grounds of age.
Mr Collins' witness statement says the authority's decision to support the plan was not taken lightly.
Savings of £42 million over four years were being sought. A meeting of the authority on December 15, 2010, approved the scheme, and full approval was given the next month.
Mr Collins, chairman of the authority from 2010 to November 2012, when police and crime commissioner for Notts Paddy Tipping took office, said in his statement: "We took the view that there was a clear and fair process in place for implementing the regulation.
"We were satisfied that the decision making under the procedure was at an appropriate level, given the gravity of the decisions to be made. Neither I, nor my fellow members of the authority, took the decision to approve the use of A19 lightly.
"We recognised the impact that it would have on individual officers, and the fact ... that it was more likely to affect officers of a particular age group.
"However, the authority accepted that the need to ensure the ongoing efficiency of the force, against the background of the considerable budgetary pressures imposed, left us with no practical alternative."
He added that A19 could only be used against officers entitled to their full pension.
Today he told the tribunal: "We had to make a decision based on the best possible evidence, as to how we were going to get a legal budget.
"We had to make a decision in the December to allow a proper process to be developed.
"Broadly speaking, the fact that we ended up serving A19 notices on over 50 officers rather implies that the judgement that we couldn't be confident that the vast majority were going to retire at 30 years seems to have been correct."
The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.