As Nottinghamshire’s police force faces further cuts to front line services, the cost of defending its court case against ‘retired’ officers continues to climb.
As part of cost-cutting measures adopted by the force a number of police officers, who had served 30 years or more, were forced to retire under the A19 Sanction.
But in the high-profile case, the group of officers, many of whom were high-ranking experienced staff, took the force to an industrial tribunal earlier this year and won their claim through “indirect age discrimination”.
The force has appealed the decision, which is still waiting to be heard, but so far the cost of the case to the tax-payer sits at £90,838.30.
This information was gathered through a Freedom Of Information request by the Dispatch.
Despite the high costs to the constabulary, they continue to defend their actions saying more cash has been saved in the sanction than spent.
However many of the staff ‘retired’ in the cull have been re-hired either as consultants, agency staff and some even on permanent contracts at a cost of over £593,000 in the past two years alone.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Paddy Tipping, who was elected into this new position in November 2012, said the sanction was used as a way to save cash.
According to the information received by the force this equates to an annual saving of £6m (including National Insurance and Pensions contributions).
“The decision to implement ‘A19’ was taken by the former Police Authority well before I was elected,” said Mr Tipping. “However, I do appreciate that they had to take difficult decisions in very tight timescales in order to meet the funding cuts required by the Government.”
Defending the costs and the impact on services, Mr Tipping said they were hopeful that the appeal would rule in the force’s favour.
“There are five forces involved in this case and we are sharing the costs,” he said. “Obviously we were disappointed not to win the case but we have since received separate legal advice which suggests that we have strong grounds for appeal.
“We anticipate that the original funds put aside for the case will cover most of our costs, but at the current time it’s difficult to quantify the entire cost if an appeal doesn’t find in our favour.”
Nottinghamshire Police have had 19 officers retired under A19 who have returned to provide support to the organisation. The majority originally commenced either via an agency or on a temporary contract. 12 officers continue to provide support to the organisation (two via an agency, two on temporary contracts and eight on permanent contracts).
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer criticised the decision calling it a ‘misuse of the tax-payers’ hard-earned income’.
“This is very frustrating to hear the costs involved in hiring lawyers for this case when many of the staff involved have been taken back,” said Mr Spencer. “The public will be wondering how many extra police officers could have been put on the streets instead.
“Whilst I understand the pressure to meet the budget, on reflection, sacking people, paying compensation and re-hiring them not only comes at a high price but creates unnecessary stress to those involved.
“They should have taken a more strategic view at the beginning of the process.”