Labour has claimed that the coalition government’s cuts to public spending mean more than 2,000 experienced and valuable police officers will be forced to retire by 2015.
Police budgets in England and Wales are to face a 20% budget cut over the next four years. The overall budget will be slashed by 4% for the first two years to £9.3 billion, and by 5% thereafter, reducing central funding to £8.8 billion.
Individual forces across the country have to find ways of reducing their costs in order to comply with the budget cuts. The Home Office has said that it believes the savings can be made by reducing bureaucracy and increasing efficiency.
However, Labour has obtained information under the Freedom of Information Act that 13 forces are planning to use a little known regulation called A19 that allows police officers to be forcibly retired after 30 years service.
Police officers are not employees and therefore cannot be made redundant. However, A19 allows forces to apply for permission to retire police officers who have 30 or more years’ service.
The shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the intended use of A19 to retire over 2,000 experienced police officers will compromise the safety of the public and compromise the ongoing fight against crime.
She said the officers at risk of forced retirement are often “experts in their fields” who have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge that cannot be replaced.
One of the officers forced to retire under A19 told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the regulation was a “crude tool” used to reduce staff numbers.
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