MPs have clashed over police cuts as they debated who was responsible for the decision to lose up to 500 highly experienced officers from West Midlands Police.
Aidan Burley (Con Cannock Chase) insisted the Government was not responsible for decision of West Midlands Police to force officers to retire early, claiming it was “purely a matter for the chief constable”.
But Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington) accused him of mounting a “Pontius Pilate defence” and of blaming Chris Sims, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, for spending cuts imposed by the Government.
The force is set to lose 2,200 posts, including 1,100 police officers, as a result of spending cuts.
While some officer positions will be lost by simply not replacing staff who leave, others will be axed using a regulation known as A19, which allows the force to order officers to retire early.
Under the unusual employment laws governing police forces, it is almost impossible to sack a police officer without good reason except by using the A19 rule.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Burley said: “Will he confirm that no Government policy whatever forces chief constables to retire officers with experience of 30 years or more and that the use of regulation A19 … under which such officers are being “forced out” is purely a matter for the chief constable of the police force and has absolutely no direction from the Government?
“The best chief constables can manage their work force without losing officers with the most experience.”
Mr Dromey responded: “That is the Home Secretary’s Pontius Pilate defence. At the worst possible time – 2,500 more burglaries, 2,200 more vehicle crimes, robbery up by 25 per cent – the Government is cutting the police, but they are then blaming the police for the cuts.
“The Government has put good chief constables, such as Chris Sims of the West Midlands police, an outstanding leader of his service, in an impossible situation.
“It is about time that the Government accepted responsibility for the consequences of their actions and did not blame our chief constables.”
Later in the debate, Mr Burley insisted he was not blaming Mr Sims but actually blamed the previous government for leaving Britain with a massive budget deficit.