South Wales Police 'no option' but to retire officers

Wales' largest police force say they do not want to make experienced officers retire, but have no choice due to cuts in funding.

Seventy officers with 30 years' service are leaving South Wales Police this year, but the force said they would try to limit the impact on the public.

There are claims their departure may damage their ability to police major events and specialist operations.

The Home Office said staffing was a matter for individual chief constables.

Police officers cannot be made redundant because they are Crown servants rather than employees.

But South Wales Police are using a regulation called A19 to force some officers to retire once they have completed 30 years' service.

Sixteen officers have left North Wales Police under A19 but the force do not plan to use it next year.

Gwent Police have no plans to use the regulation but Dyfed-Powys Police are considering it.

Mark Milton, human resources director at South Wales Police, said A19 would affected under 4% of their police officers.

"We do not welcome the necessity to compulsorily retire officers who have given so much service to the public," he said.

"However recognising that we have had no alternative we have worked hard to ensure that we limit the impact on the public and can treat those affected with dignity."

'Tough job'

The South Wales Police Federation, which represents officers, says the force will struggle to recover from the loss of experience.

Chairman Gary Bohun said: "Experienced officers are role models for youngsters to learn from and aspire to.

"They're also specialists in roles like child protection and public protection.

"Big events like big match days and concerts will suffer - one major event planning officer has already gone under A19 and he had 10 years experience of those big days."

Graham Cassidy, secretary of the Superintendents Association, said: "The chief constables have a very tough job making the 20% cuts but this is a blunt tool.

"You shouldn't forcibly retire people who may have so much still to give."

A Home Office spokesman said: "It is a matter for individual chief constables, with their police authorities, to decide whether to use regulation A19.

"They are best placed to judge if this long-standing power should be used to ensure the efficiency of their force."

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