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Minister vows to contact the Treasury over reality of CNC Police Officers' retirement age

The Civil Nuclear Police Federation has enjoyed a successful meeting with the Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - where the reality of a 67/68-year-old retirement age for firearms officers was highlighted.

Chief Executive Nigel Dennis and Chairman Mark Nelson - alongside force Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman - met with Richard Harrington (all pictured) as part of the Staff Association's ongoing lobbying around plans to increase CNC officers' retirement age to the state pension age.

The Minister agreed to contact the Treasury over the matter after the meeting, which has been described as an "enormous step forward" in the Federation's campaign to achieve a fair pension age for its members. The UK police service was told in 2011 that the Government was setting 60 as their retirement age. The 2013 Public Sector Pension Act confirmed this - while setting the retirement age for the rest of the public service at 67/68. Crucially, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary was not included on the exemption list.

Speaking after the meeting with Mr Harrington, Nigel said: "The rationale behind our argument, backed by scientific evidence, is that it is very unlikely that our members will be able to achieve the standard required, the College of Policing's firearm standard, in relation to fitness and medical wellbeing - ie eyesight and the hearing - at that age.

"That's the science- everything comes back saying this is unachievable in the main. You might clearly get people that could achieve that, but they are on the very rare occasion and they are in the elite group. "The outcome of the meeting was a very positive one. It was a very cordial meeting, and Mr Harrington has agreed to write a "Letter of Comfort" to the Chancellor, setting out that it's not acceptable for our officers to have a retirement age of 67/68, and that it is morally wrong, basically, to say that we should be working to those lines.

"Clearly, as Mr Harrington pointed out to me, he is not the final decision maker in this process. But as a minister, he can write to another department and highlight their views."

How important is it for the Civil Nuclear Police Federation and its members that the organisation appears to have someone in Government that understands the issues?

"Extremely. I cannot emphasis enough how important it was for us to have achieved that goal," added Nigel, who alongside Mark has spent months meeting with MPs of all parties over the pensions injustice. "For Mr Harrington to say, 'I get it, I understand it, and I can see why you've been lobbying for this amount of time,' was an excellent achievement and we thank him for his time.

"Yes, he isn't the final decision maker. However, by him overtly coming out and saying this, that he will provide that Letter of Comfort, it is an enormous step forward in the right direction."

Nigel said he is hoping the letter will be sent between departments by the beginning of March - and it is likely to include the science/reality of the situation - such as operational AFOs have to work a 12-hour shift pattern of two day and two night shifts consecutively, and wear 30kg (almost 5 stone) of body armour and respiratory equipment. And whether they can be expected to do that at 67/68.

Nigel added: "The next step will be then to lobby Treasury and Cabinet Office, and have that letter accompany us when we do that. The challenge continues - and we won't stop or be deterred until we achieve our goal on behalf of our hard-working members."