Opinion Former Article

NARPO: Rewarding service?

The National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) is over 90 years old and represents the views of retired police officers of all ranks from forces within England and Wales.

We currently have in excess of 85,000 members many of whom are concerned at the changing nature of British Policing following the effective imposition of wholesale changes not only to the terms and conditions of officers but more importantly to the Governance and ultimately the role of sworn police officers in the overall delivery of the policing function.   The reduction in the numbers of officers and the consequential earlier than expected retirement for many also has consequences into retirement.

NARPO is well aware that there are retired police officers still working in policing and the security industry and they have every right to do so. This is not the full extent of the range of occupations followed by former officers but it is a significant employment opportunity for many.

At a time when many officers have been forced to retire yet the service and private sector is desperate for their skills, it is strange that many, including some politicians, appear keen to restrict employment opportunities for retired police officers. This is particularly hard to understand at a time when Governments are asking older people to be active and work longer as they threaten both to increase the age before which state pension becomes payable and decrease or means test pensioner benefits.

It must surely be a restrictive employment practice to deny retiring police officers opportunities in any industry but particularly in areas where their skill and expertise are valued. That must include policing and the security industry. 

After all, those who wish to work in the Police and in many other occupations are likely to have to go through a rigorous selection procedure and many will be using specific skills and experience attained during their time in the police, which would be difficult to find in the more general public.

We are sure that police forces, which employ former officers, do so because it is cost effective, recognising that those skills and experience save training and other costs. In addition former officers are invariably ready to be productive in their new role immediately.

Former officers, who have retired, will have paid 11% of salary throughout their service to become entitled to a pension and will be paying tax both on the pension and any salary paid to the benefit of the Exchequer.

We are regularly being asked the question about former officers working in retirement but both the need to work and the need for forces to employ former officers is a direct consequence of Governments’ actions. In addition, the need for older people, like retired police officers, to work longer is also a direct result of Governments’ actions. It would in our view be grossly unfair to restrict any particular sector of people from obtaining jobs in any sector of employment for which their skills are appropriate, as seems to be in the minds of some in respect of retired police officers, for no other reason than their previous employment.

The Government have recently completed an overhaul of police pensions but appear to have ignored the administration of the payment of those pensions. What retired police officers find is that they are subject to a post code lottery in respect of the payment of their pension, which is still centred on their individual force and whoever administers the scheme on behalf of the force.

This leads to a combination of policy and practices decisions, which means that what is in reality a single scheme, is being subject to various interpretation of, on occasions, the simplest of criteria applicable to the efficient administration of the scheme. This has led to a considerable number of problems involving maladministration of the scheme leading to both inappropriate decisions in some cases and wrong payments in others.

The Home Office were more active in the past in trying to ensure that the police pension scheme was subject to similar interpretation across all forces but over recent years the value and legality of some of that advice has been brought into question, leading to reluctance on the part of that Department to offer detailed advice. This has not been helped by the reduction of resources at a time of significant challenges for the Department driven by the Government’ pace and extent of changes in policing.

NARPO believe that the time is right to give some careful consideration of how best to manage the administration of the police pension scheme to ensure a fair, accurate and even interpretation of the scheme in respect of all retired police offices, who have contributed to the scheme.

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