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Parks Police Precluded from Unfair Dismissal Claims

ParkIn a ruling which usefully defines the term ‘constable’ in the context of employment law, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that two members of a local authority’s parks police service were precluded from making unfair dismissal claims by virtue of section 200 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The officers had sought to distinguish themselves from ordinary police constables who are, by definition, office holders rather than employees and who exercise wider law enforcement powers. The parks officers could only exercise their limited powers within a narrow locality and it was argued that they had the same rights as any employee and fell outside the ambit of section 200.

Those arguments succeeded before an employment judge who permitted the officers to pursue their unfair dismissal claims. However, in allowing the local authority’s appeal, the EAT ruled that the officers were correctly viewed as constables who were members of a constabulary established by act of Parliament.

Noting that the officers were required to make their declarations of office before a Justice of the Peace, the UT observed that they undertook to enforce parks bye-laws and regulations and the fact that they did not have the width of powers enjoyed by ordinary police constables was nothing to the point.

The UT noted that one of the officers had also made claims of racial and/or religious discrimination which were not precluded by section 200. They would also have been able to pursue their claims had they been dismissed for an inadmissible reason under section 100 or section 103A of the act.