Blog: Gary Thwaite
The Clue Is In The Name - Blog by Civil Nuclear Police Federation Chief Executive Gary Thwaite
We are police officers.
We're called the Civil Nuclear Police Constabulary.
But, insultingly, we are not being given full recognition by Government that we are police.
First it was the 2013 Public Service Pensions Act, which denied us exemption as a police force when we should have been allowed to retire at 60 along with the rest of our Home Office police colleagues. Recently it's beginning to look as if the Government will insist, against all the expert evidence never mind common sense, that we should work until we are 67 or 68.
This fantasy all stems from the legislative oversight (freely admitted by the late Lord Hutton whose pensions report laid the ground for the Act) that omitted specialist police forces such as the MDP and the CNC from the exemptions list. In my view, it's morally indefensible for a Government to take advantage of that legislative error.
The Government knows it's well-nigh physically impossible for most officers to serve beyond 60, given the required weaponry skills and physical demands for AFOs.
It's not as if there's not an available solution. Following the Government's pension consultation document on the transitional arrangements we suggested including the CNC age protection in the new primary legislation. But the Government's pension recommendations have omitted the very remedy that it had told us many times was a significant obstacle... that only primary legislation would save our current pension age.
Talk about moving the goal posts!
We have written to the Treasury asking about their definitive intentions on our retirement age. We will not back down from demanding that the Government retain our current normal pension age.
But that battle is not the only sign that the Government has developed a two-tier perception of how the police family should be treated.
Earlier last week, the Government opened consultation on the minimum age we can take our pensions, and it's going up from 55 to 57. Again, uniformed services are exempt, but because Government insists that we are not police we're being treated differently. The minimum age we can take our pensions will be 57. Yet again, this is quite unfair.
Many of our officers already struggle to maintain the physical AFO standards in their mid-fifties. You could be a CNC officer that gives 30 years to the force, gets to 55 or 56 then no longer able to maintain these standards, and you'll have to retire on nothing and wait a couple of years until you can access your pension. It's not acceptable and we will be briefing our Parliamentary supporters accordingly.
Sadly, our feeling that we are being splintered from the broader police family is further reinforced by news coming from the plans around the new Police Covenant.
Non-Home Office forces are not going to be included in the main primary legislation itself. Instead, like some last-minute afterthought, the CNC, BTP and MDP officers are to be covered under an MOU (memorandum of understanding) a lazy and belittling way which fails to understand that our police forces, whether Home Office or specialist, should be equally valued and protected by an all-encompassing Police Covenant. We intend to pursue this objective with Government.
Stay safe and as ever, thank you for everything you do.
Chief Executive, Civil Nuclear Police Federation