Eamon Keating, Chairman of the Defence Police Federation, looks at the ongoing fight for fair police pensions for our members.
To expect Ministry of Defence Police officers to work until 65 and potentially beyond that age before they can retire is unfair, ludicrous and frankly an unrealistic expectation.
Our officers are in a unique position in British policing in that we are not part of the Home Office Police Pension Scheme and when The Public Service Pension Bill went through Parliament our officers, depending on their date of birth, were moved to the new Civil Service Pension Scheme – effectively meaning that their retirement age had gone from 60 up to the state pension age.
Currently this would be 65 to 68 but we all know this could be subject to change.
The real problem for us is the expectation that our officers will be able to do our taxing role for a period of 45-50 years, which is what the expectation here is.
So, where an officer joins the Ministry of Defence Police at 18 years of age, they’ll meet the national standard for fitness, and for firearms they’ll meet all the licensing requirements. They’ll carry up to four stone of equipment every day of their working life, depending on rank, obviously, and their role. But if they are firearms officers they’ll be doing that 12 hours a day, every working day, and the expectation is they’ll do that until they’re 65, 66, 67 and beyond.
That’s an unrealistic expectation, and nowhere else in uniform services – fire brigade, military or any other policing service is that expected.
Why are our police officers being singled out? When we asked Lord Hutton, the architect of public service pension changes, why our members were not protected as “uniformed services”, he said he excluded the Ministry of Defence Police by accident. He didn’t know we existed and his position in the Lords was, had he known, he would have included us in the uniformed services element of the bill.
But that didn’t take place – and all of the challenges we have raised and all of the reviews we’ve asked Government, Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, everybody to do, have resulted in our officers still being excluded from that element of the bill.
So what are we doing? We are pressing for a pension age of 60 for our members and we are currently pressing five discrimination claims that we’ve lodged with the Employment Tribunal in relation to discrimination for our officers that have been moved into this new scheme and had their pension age increased by, potentially, up to 7 or 8 years for some people.
As a result of the two well publicised pension discrimination challenge cases with Judges and Firefighters – one which found in favour, one against and both which could be subject to appeal – the Government have asked that our cases be stayed awaiting the outcome of those appeals.
We are looking to resist that position because we feel that our cases should be heard as soon as possible. So, we’re looking to push those forward, but that will be in the hands of the tribunal, not ourselves.
We’re not asking for anything special, we’re not asking for anything more than any other uniform service receives in the country. We think 60 would be a fair retirement age. There seems to be no consideration at all around our role or what we do.
This is purely a financial and policy based decision and that just seems ludicrous to me.
This is a situation we are all facing. From Federation Chairman to newest recruit. For us, the ongoing fight about pensions is a fundamental issue and we will continue to make representations on this until we reach a point where there is nowhere else to go, or we’ve achieved what we need to in the best interests of national security and our membership.