Chief Executive's Blog:
70 year old Armed Police Officers would be a significant security and safety risk to the UK
In the ongoing fight against terrorism, Nigel Dennis, Chief Executive of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, questions whether the public want armed officers on patrol in towns and cities with lethal weapons aged 67, 68 or beyond?
The security of this country will be put at risk if the Government forces Civil Nuclear Constabulary police officers to work until they are 67, 68 or beyond.
That is the reality - and politicians need to take note. This is a significant security and safety risk to U.K. PLC. Why do we say this?
Some people might not know, but the vast majority of officers we represent are highly skilled and motivated Authorised Firearms Officers, who play a crucial role in protecting this country. Our mission is to deter defend deny and recover, but we do so much more.
As we have seen, Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers are now a major part of the Government's anti-terrorist surge response.
This year so far, more than 430 armed colleagues have been deployed across the country protecting people at a number of high profile events in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
We are simply vital in keeping people in Britain safe and secure - and we need to be mentally and physically sharp to do this.
These are not toys we are carrying. These are highly technical and precise firearms. We have to make split-second decisions. This is potentially life and death.
And yet, The Government are currently insisting our members will have to retire at a state pension age. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy won't listen to reasoned arguments, science or evidence as to why this is plainly ridiculous.
The fight against terrorism is real. And it will be ongoing. Is it right that our members will be on patrol in towns and cities with lethal weapons aged 67 or 68?
Can you really expect police officers to carry firearms and do the specialist role that we undertake at that sort of age?
Can we deliver on our mission to deter, defend, deny and recover? If you've got someone that is an ageing police officer, how are you going to manage?
The hefty equipment and weapons that we carry, should we as a society be expecting that of our public servants to do that as they approach 70? We don't expect that of the military, so why should we expect it of police officers?
The Government must listen to the professional experts.
Our Chief Constable, Mike Griffiths is on record to the Director of Nuclear Resilience and Assurance Richard Westlake as stating "that in normal operational circumstances it is not sustainable from a capability, reputational, risk and public confidence perspective for AFOs to carry lethal weapons and continue in AFO roles beyond the age of 60."
Simon Chesterman, our DCC, who is also the National Police Chiefs' Council's lead on firearms, is on record as saying it's ridiculous.
There is an outside chance that ageing officers may pass the MOT test and pass that fitness test, but if you they are deployed to an ongoing operation, over a long period of time, can they maintain that level of fitness required? And is it too much to expect our officers to do that?
Do we really want to take that risk?
At a High Court hearing on this issue last year, lawyers representing the Government said "no final decision" had been made on the terms of the CNC's future pension scheme. The situation remains the same.
The case is still there to be fought. We are going to fight for it. We are going to pursue this to the nth degree.
Our message to Richard Harrington, the relatively new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is listen to what we've got to tell you, listen to your professional experts, and then start lobbying the Cabinet Office and the Treasury on our members' behalf.
Our members are rightly expected to have and maintain the highest performance standards as an enduring career requirement if we are to be effective against the increasingly real threat of a terrorist attack.
If the Government want us to maintain those standards, they must accept that 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.
For the health of our members. And for the safety and security of our country.