Long-serving Sussex Police officers face cull in £52million cuts

Some of the most experienced police officers in Sussex are facing compulsory retirement as the force struggles to save £52m from its annual budget over the next four years.

Chief constable Martin Richards has been given the go-ahead to ditch policemen and women who have notched up 30 years’ service.

The decision to invoke a police pensions regulation, allowing the measure, was made by Sussex Police Authority last Thursday.

Around 60 officers have already reached 30 years’ service or are due to do so over the next four months.

The authority said they had been kept fully informed of Regulation A19 and would be supported as it was applied.

Around 200 other officers are due to reach 30 years’ service before 2015 and will be required to retire if the regulation, which is subject to annual review, stays in effect.

Chief Constable Richards said later the request to use Regulation A19 was a difficult and reluctant decision.

“I do not welcome the prospect of any officers being required to retire through no fault of their own and undoubtedly neither will many of them,” he said.

“However, the Police Authority’s approval was essential if we are to deliver our plans for effective and sustainable policing.

“There have been and there will continue to be tough choices that will directly affect the thousands of people who work for the force and the 1.5 million people we serve, who must remain at the forefront of our decisions.

“We will now work with the Police Federation and the Superintendents’ Association to support those officers who will sadly be required to retire.”

Steve Waight, the new chairman of Sussex Police Authority stressed: “The force faces a significant financial challenge and we have ensured their Serving Sussex 2015 programme aims to provide excellent policing even in these tough times.”

Eighty four per cent of the force’s annual budget goes on officers and staff.

Estimated reductions of around 500 police officers and 550 police staff are needed by 2015.

Already more than 300 police staff have left under a voluntary severance scheme.

Recruitment of new officers was stopped last year, but the force says it will not be able to meet its workforce reduction target and deliver the changes planned without using the police pensions regulation, requiring officers with 30 years’ pensionable service to retire ‘in the general interests of efficiency’.