�500,000 police pay offs revealed

Ben KendallDisgruntled Norfolk police officers have received more than �500,000 in compensation pay offs over the last two years, it has been revealed as the force prepares to fight further claims.Ben Kendall

Disgruntled Norfolk police officers have received more than �500,000 in compensation pay offs over the last two years, it has been revealed as the force prepares to fight further claims.

Norfolk Police Authority confirmed that there are currently six employment tribunal claims lodged against the force. The high level of pay outs has emerged at a time when the force is under pressure to cut costs, including reducing civilian roles.

So far in this financial year the force has paid out in two cases. Authority chief executive Chris Harding could not confirm the precise amounts involved due to confidentiality agreements. However, the figure is believed to be less than �100,000.

During the previous financial year the amount topped �450,000 as eight officers successfully claimed for unfair treatment.

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Mr Harding said 2008/9 had seen an unusual peak in cases adding that the sum in previous years had been significantly lower. Some of the pay outs related to claims dating back to 2001.

He added: 'It is unfortunate that any officer feels they have been treated unfairly and chooses to proceed to an employment tribunal. From the authority's point of view, any number of tribunals is too many.

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'Our senior management team has shown a willingness to learn from these experiences and we hope that will lead to fewer claims in the future.'

In recent years the force has fought a number of cases including that of Sgt Christina Arthurton, who successfully claimed she had been discriminated against.

Other cases - including that of the late Sgt David Sutherland who claimed the force had attempted to redeploy him to frontline duties despite the fact he had been diagnosed with cancer - have been settled with undisclosed pay outs before reaching a tribunal.

Many of the claims coincide with a period of upheaval within the force, such as the introduction of new shift patterns and the redeployment of officers to new duties.

David Benfield, general secretary of the Norfolk Police Federation which represents the rank and file, said: 'Employment tribunals are always a last resort when we are unable to successfully negotiate with management.

'There was a period two or three years ago when there was a higher number of tribunal claims than other years. During that time it could be said senior management did not always understand the full implications of some of the decision that were being made.'

Unlike civilians, police officers cannot claim for unfair dismissal, where pay outs are capped, and must instead claim for discrimination which can lead to unlimited compensation.

Are you one of the officers involved and want to tell your story? Contact Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or email ben.kendall@archant.co.uk

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