Challenge to policing cuts

THE chairman of Nottinghamshire Police Federation says the force needs to invest in staff performance procedures rather than forcing long-serving officers into retirement to save cash.

The call comes after Nottinghamshire Police Authority approved the forced retirement of officers with 30 years of service on efficiency grounds - a decision being challenged by the federation.

Chairman Mick Taylor described the A19 regulation as ‘ludicrous’ and urged the authority to explore other options - including dismissing failing officers instead of axing experienced staff.

“Officers with years of experience who are performing well are being made redundant yet these people want to work, one of them is 45 and many are under 50,” he said. “We’ve a recruitment freeze on so we will have a big trench of people with 15 to 20 years’ experience working in the force and then some who have only just come in.

“There’ll be no middle ground if we continue along this route, how are officers with so much skill and experience going to be replaced?

“I’d like to see more money invested in the police’s unsatisfactory performance procedures to monitor under-performing officers, there may be a reason why they are under performing or they may be simply in the wrong job.”

Nottinghamshire Police is looking to use the A19 regulation to help save £46m by 2014-15 because of Government spending cuts.

Mr Taylor fears front line police officers working in a variety of positions could be lost across Mansfield and Ashfield, which could lead to a rise in crime.

He added: “With smaller staff there will be more criminals getting away with things, when cuts are made things tend to get centralised and it will be smaller communities in the rural villages which are going to be affected, criminals realise there are less police in certain areas.”

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said the authority had taken detailed legal advice on every aspect of the process.

“We have no choice but to find savings of £46m over the next four years and while we continue to look for savings that can be made without having to reduce workforce, the fact that 85 per cent of our budget is the cost of personnel means we’ve had to make very difficult decisions,” he said.

“We are aware the federation has suggested the application of other forms of regulation, rather than the use of A19 but the use of all those other options would not address the budget shortfall.

“It should be noted that Nottinghamshire has around three times the number of homicide officers that neighbouring forces have, and yet the average annual homicide rate in Nottinghamshire - 12 - is identical to Leicestershire and only one more than in Derbyshire.

“A small number of firearms officers are among those to whom A19 would apply, yet this force has around 100 accredited firearms officers and there are well-developed plans for greater collaboration with forces to increase the resilience of armed response.

“This force will still have a considerable number of officers who possess years of police experience once this process is complete.

“Many officers choose to retire after 30 years’ service, and those who choose to retire or who leave via the A19 process do so with full pensions, payable immediately.”

“That is not the case for many police staff members who face redundancy, and who also have provided excellent and vital service to the force and the public.”