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An issue of National Security - MPs write to Minister over Civil Nuclear Police officer pension age

Concerned MPs have written to the Minister for Business and Industry urging him to resolve an issue of 'national security' - by speeding up the progress on Civil Nuclear Police officer pension ages.

CNC officers, who are bizarrely classed as civil servants for the purposes of their pension, will only be able retire from the age of 67/68, and receive full pension benefits. Whereas other police officers in Home Office forces can retire from the age of 60, with full pension benefits.

The Civil Nuclear Police Federation has been lobbying Government officials, including the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to get the issue addressed which it says is undermining the effectiveness of the force.

And now the MPs, all of whom have nuclear establishments in their constituencies, have contacted Business and Industry MP Richard Harrington directly to try and get the matter moving.

In the letter, Patricia Gibson MP (North Ayrshire and Arran) Trudy Harrison (Copeland) Mike Hill (Hartlepool), Martin Whitfield (East Lothian) and Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) thank the Minister for acknowledging that the higher retirement age would pose 'insurmountable' difficulties.

However, they also urged him to progress meetings with all interested parties including the Federation, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

"We, the undersigned, urge you to convene a meeting with the BEIS, HMT, Cabinet Office and all interested parties to expedite progress on resolving an issue of urgent national security - the CNC's pensions age..." they wrote.

"...the issue is becoming increasingly pressing for national security and for the welfare and wellbeing of the CNC's 1,250 officers, many of whom are our constituents.

"The deterioration in turnover of CNC officers has now risen steadily towards 12% with officers leaving for other police forces or for more civilian employment where the retirement age is attainable."

The Civil Nuclear Police Federation say the force is currently 142 Authorised Firearms Officers short of where it should be. The force also has had 79 "unscheduled leavers" since the beginning of April 2018.

And a further 32 officers have tendered their resignations in the last month.

The MPs added: "Recruitment numbers have halved as applicants become aware of the impending increase in the retirement age to 67/68 [as outlined in the Public Service Pensions Act 2013]

"Such a situation cannot continue without serious and potentially immediate consequences for national security as it becomes steadily more difficult for CNC to fulfil its mission of protecting the UK's civil nuclear assets at home or in transit and to supplement the resources of armed Home Department police as part of the Strategic Armed Policing Reserve and Operation Temperer.

"At a time when the CNC's role in national security is increasing, the knock-on effects from an unrealistic retirement age must be addressed urgently."