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Chairman's Blog:
Policing is physically demanding - can our members really be expected to work until 68?

Mark Nelson, Chairman of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, looks at the fairness - and the repercussions - of the current pension age for Civil Nuclear Constabulary Officers.

Civil Nuclear Police officers should be able to retire on a full pension aged 60 - in line with the rest of the UK policing service. Being a CNC Authorised Firearms officer is a physically demanding role.

Our members have to carry more than of 30kg of weight when they work - when you consider their firearms and associated equipment - and they are rightly having to maintain a high level of fitness to stay in their important roles.

For the majority of officers it will frankly not be possible to sustain this beyond the age of 60, and science has proved that. And yet, our members, due to an oversight on pensions post the Hutton Review, are being treated like many other civil servants. For some bizarre reason, not like our fellow UK policing colleagues.

In reality we could have to retire when we are 68. Or beyond.

Studies have shown that no matter what your fitness levels are, when you get to 60, there is a cliff edge and your fitness levels considerably drop off. So, to expect our officers to perform their physically taxing role beyond that age isn't fair on them and it isn't fair on the service.

After all - how much does an ill-health retiral cost? -figures have been provided to government and it's actually cheaper to retire an officer at 60!

Our fear is we are going to face many of these such claims. There just are not enough of the non-firearms officer roles in our force for officers to carry out if they can no longer carry a firearm.

In 2018 we are going into the new pension scheme. If this matter is not addressed by then, there are going to be serious problems moving forward within the force with roles and retention.

We need politicians to take this matter seriously.

There have been seven ministers for energy and industry since we were left off the Public Service Pension Act in 2013 - not by design but by omission. We've now been given another minister with this Government reshuffle, Richard Harrington.

Hopefully he will listen to us. The clock is ticking.

For the Government to call on our members when there is a terrorist incident and say "We're going to treat you as police officers when we want you to deal with terrorism, and use your specialist skills. But when you revert away from that role we're not going to treat you as police officers. We're going to treat you as civil servants" is plainly wrong.

Police officers around the country work hard doing many different roles but with the same level of commitment and professionalism - and it is not right that some should be rewarded less favourably.

We as a Federation believe our members should be treated exactly the same as our Home Office colleagues, and we will continue to fight for their interests until they are.

Our message to members is that we will keep trying on this. We won't let it go. We will keep pushing every minister and make them make a reasonable decision based on the science and based on the tough role our officers carry out to keep the country safe.