The court case concerns former Inspector Edward Crudace, who served with the Northumbria police. Mr Crudace, now aged 67, was seriously injured whilst arresting a prisoner and was forced to retire as a police officer. His injuries meant he could not work and he was awarded a substantial police injury pension. However, when he reached the age of 65 his pension was slashed by Northumbria Police, relying on Home Office guidance, leaving Mr Crudace with a vastly reduced income.
Last month the High Court in Leeds heard Mr David Lock QC, of No5 Chambers, on behalf of Mr Crudace, condemn the Home Office guidance as unlawful because it led to police injury pensions routinely being reduced to the lowest level when former officers reached the age of 65.
The Judge, HHJ Behrens, has now released a judgement upholding these criticisms and quashing the decision of the Northumbria police to reduce Mr Crudace’s pension. The Judge decided the Home Office guidance was unlawful because it was inconsistent with the statutory scheme under which the pensions were paid.
In another part of the judgement which will cause concern to other Police Authorities, His Honour Judge Behrens confirmed that former police officers who have had their pensions reduced in this way are entitled apply to the Police Authority for the decisions to be reversed and for their pensions to be restored.
Mr Ron Thompson of Lake Jackson solicitors says: “This judgement opens the door for thousands of injured police officers who have had their pensions reduced unlawfully to apply to have the decision reversed. When the decision is reviewed they will be entitled to a pension at its proper level and, in many cases, to a substantial back payment.
“The right thing for Police Authorities to do now is to identify every former injured police officer whose pension has been wrongly reduced, and to agree to review each one. If they do not do this it seems inevitable that they will face further legal actions as former injured officers assert their right to the pension to which they are entitled.
“I also hope that the Home Office recognises that the fault for this misconceived guidance lies with officials at the Home Office rather than individual police forces. The cost of putting this debacle right ought to be met by the Home Office and not individual police forces.”
Mr Crudace adds: “I always knew that my pension had been wrongly reduced but Northumbria Police Authority refused to accept this, and have wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayers money attempting to defend an unlawful decision.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to my superb legal team, Mr Ron Thompson and David Lock QC of No5 Chambers, who took this case on a “no-win, no fee” arrangement despite all its risks.
“I know there are many former police officers who have been injured serving their communities in the same position as me. They have seen their pensions cut to the lowest level when they reach 65 in reliance on this unlawful Guidance. I hope they will be able to use this landmark decision to get their pensions restored to the level they are entitled to.”
To read more, please see the following links (external websites):
The Guardian
Yorkshire Post