Government cuts 'justified age discrimination' say Notts Police
NOTTS Police – which forced officers out of their jobs after 30 years' service – had "justification" to discriminate against them because of their age, an employment tribunal was told.
It 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, police officers below chief officer rank with 30 years' experience were forced into retirement under a policy called regulation A19.
Central London Employment Tribunal – where a handful of test cases are being heard – was told by a human resources manager from Notts Police that discrimination was justified because of the "budget situation".
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Margaret Monckton, assistant chief officer for resources at the force, said in her witness statement that Notts Police had "monetary savings to be made in the region of £42 million".
The tribunal heard the decision to implement regulation A19 was made by the Nottinghamshire Police Authority after a meeting in December 2010, despite a 44-page advisory report drawn up by lawyers warning the policy could breach employment laws on age discrimination.
Paul Gilroy QC, representing claimants from the Police Superintendents' Association, asked Miss Monckton if she thought she should have taken "personal responsibility" to inform the Police Authority of the need for proper justification for age discrimination. She said she did not, to which Mr Gilroy replied: "That's an absolute travesty."
The tribunal judge – James Taylor – interjected during the cross-examination to put it to the witness that Notts Police could be in "treacherous waters" if it did not have a justification for age discrimination.
She replied: "I have to say I think our concern was how to maintain performance, if we are going to reduce our workforce. There was an awareness of the age discrimination perspective on this, but we felt that we had justification for it, given the budget situation."
Devon and Cornwall, North Wales, South Wales and West Midlands police forces join Notts in contesting the allegations.