West Midlands Police Federation has welcomed the decision to scrap a controversial regulation that has forced out 559 police officers with 30 years of service since 2010.
Chief Constable Chris Sims announced this week that he was ending the use of the A19 pension regulation, which has led to the enforced retirement of scores of experienced police officers.
The Federation, which represents rank and file officers said the future retention of experienced officers was good news for the police and the public.
The review of A19 follows the announcement last month by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Bob Jones, that he plans to use around £60million of reserves to recruit 450 new police officers.
The force also hopes to bring in 100 new police staff, who will be used to release more officers into front-line crime-fighting roles.
Those plans are currently under consultation, but the announcement to cut A19 came as the force credited it with helping to save around £100m since 2010.
The force has not recruited officers since 2010 and projects that it will not have a single officer under the age of 25 by next year.
Chief Constable Chris Sims said: “The force faced an acute financial problem of needing to save £125m. About £100m or more of that has now been found with the majority coming from changes to staff.
“The only way we could make those changes at that pace was to use the regulation and I am delighted to get to the stage where it’s no longer needed.
“The implementation of A19 was an essential tool to enable to the Force to meet the demands of efficiency and that has been achieved.
“The opportunities set out in the budget consultation come as a result of the considerable work the force has carried out over the last three years.
“They have resulted in the achievement of challenging savings targets as well as the delivery of increasing levels of efficiency in policing our local communities.”
In July the High Court ruled that the A19 regulation was ‘not unlawful’ following a legal challenge by the The Police Superintendents’ Association for England and Wales.
Others forces that have stopped using A19 in the last 18 months include Staffordshire and Devon and Cornwall.
Chief Constable Sims added: “I’m delighted that experienced officers will be able to continue to serve and protect the people of the West Midlands.”
The Chief Constable consulted with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office and the various police staff associations before making his decision.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones said: “I welcome and fully support the Chief Constable’s decision to end use of A19. This decision supports my proposals to restart police recruitment next year, which are currently out for consultation.
“While the decision to begin use of A19 was right at the time given the severe financial challenges we are at a point where we have been requiring officers to retire for over two years, and haven’t recruited for over three years.
"Neither is good for long-term policing and crime prevention in our area.”
Officers who are facing imminent retirement under A19 will be written to by the force explaining the decision.
Ian Edwards, Chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Police Federation, said he welcomed the announcement.
He added: “It’s sad that we have lost a number of people with such a huge amount of experience.
“However, this is welcome news.
“The retention of long serving officers can only be a good thing for the people of the West Midlands and the force.
“These were difficult decisions that had to be made at the time. But we are in a different position now.
“We have seen some rises in crime and we now have a commissioner in post. It seems that the focus has shifted to manpower and the need to support officers who are working so hard.”
Several forces, including the West Midlands, were threatened with employment tribunals along with Nottinghamshire, Devon and Cornwall, North Wales and South Wales.
There has also been outspoken opposition to the use of A19 including from the Chairman of the Nottinghamshire Police Federation, Phill Matthews.
In January, he said: “This is a wholesale, indiscriminate way of making large swathes of the workforce redundant with no compensation other than their pension, which they are entitled to anyway, to fall back on.
n Since the implementation of A19 in March 2011, 559 officers have retired from the force under this regulation.
A further 799 officers have left the force over the same period for factors that include early retirement, retired on medical grounds, personal reasons, transferring to other forces or taking on new employment opportunities. The force’s current police officer strength now stands at 7,262.