Experienced officers will face forced retirement

SUSSEX Police officers with 30 years’ experience will be forced to retire as the force’s cost-cutting drive continues – but a chief officer reaching the same milestone will escape the chop.

Last Thursday, Sussex Police Authority rubber-stamped plans to invoke the controversial regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987.

This states officers can be “required to retire” if their retention would “not be in the general interests of efficiency”.

But, in response to a Freedom of Information request, Sussex Police admitted Regulation A19 does not apply to chief officers.

These include Assistant Chief Constable Nick Wilkinson, who was at Eastbourne for a number of years and is due to reach 30 years’ service within the next six months.

Sussex Police says chief officers are appointed directly by the Police Authority under different terms and conditions and are subject to regular performance reviews by the authority.

Officers from the rank of constable all the way up to chief superintendent will be affected by A19.

The news that ACC Wilkinson and his colleagues are not subject to the same regulations has angered some officers.

Bob Brown, chairman of the Police Federation in Sussex, said around 18 officers will be affected immediately, 60 within the current financial year and 150 over the next three to four years.

He said there was an “acceptance” as to why the chief had to go to the Police Authority to seek approval, as the Force continues to struggle to make savings of £52m by 2015.

Mr Brown said, “There’s anger that people, who are dedicated to the profession they’re in and have done service for 30 years and over 30 years, are going to be forced from a job they love doing.

“We will lose a lot of expertise and experience in those officers virtually overnight.”

Some officers believe that ACC Wilkinson and his team should step down voluntarily after 30 years’ service as a show of good leadership.

Mr Brown said, “Currently some of my members have expressed the view, knowing the chief constable team are not affected by this, they feel, to show true leadership, they should voluntarily go at 30 years’ service.”