Compulsory severance was one of the most controversial proposals put forward by rail regulator-turned-chief inspector of constabulary Tom Winsor following the most comprehensive review of pay and conditions in more than 30 years.
Among recommendations accepted by Home Secretary Theresa May were plans to cut pay for new constables and the introduction of a fast-track scheme for senior ranking positions.
But after an extended period of negotiations, the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT) has rejected introducing compulsory severance after the Home Office and other representatives failed to offer a “compelling” case.
Explaining its decision, the tribunal said: “In principle, the case for the introduction of such a fundamental measure, whether used or not, needed to be compelling. In the tribunal’s view, this was not the case.”
During the tribunal, the Police Federation and Police Superintendents’ Association argued the move could ultimately undermine officers’ independence, as well as causing damage to officers’ morale and, as a consequence, police officer behaviour.
The tribunal panel, chaired by Professor John Goodman CBE, found their argument over the possible damaging effects on the “psychological contract” between officers and forces to be “persuasive”.
The panel said: “Officers were required to accept a number of sacrifices and restrictions in their personal lives and, on occasion, put themselves in harm’s way.
“The knowledge that despite making these sacrifices, an officer could still then be subject to compulsory severance as part of workforce planning was, in the tribunal’s view, detrimental to the mutuality of commitment between officers and forces.”
After yesterday’s hearing, Ian Rennie, general secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents tens of thousands of rank-and-file officers, said: “I am very pleased that the PAT has found that police officers should not be subject to compulsory severance.
“This would have changed the whole dynamic of policing and would have damaged the independence of British policing.
“The PAT judgment is binding for both sides of the Police Negotiating Board and ratification of the tribunal decision now rests with the Home Secretary.”
The Home Secretary is not bound by the recommendations of the Police Arbitration Tribunal.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office added: “The Home Secretary will now consider the findings of the Police Arbitration Tribunal.”
Mr Winsor declined to comment on the ruling.