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CNPF Chief Executive speech at House of Commons reception September 2016

Chief Executive's remarks NPMD 14th September 2016

Good evening everyone. I'm Nigel Dennis, chief executive of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation. I'm here with my chairman Mark Nelson and it's our honour to be allowed for a second time to sponsor the reception which formally launches National Police Memorial Day in just under two weeks' time.

I would like to begin by welcoming Jamie Reed MP who is our Parliamentary host for this event; where else should we hold a police reception other than in a room named after one of our most formidable Home Secretaries.

And in particular I welcome police colleagues from the wider UK police family represented here today. I'm sure you will all join with me in expressing our regret that Joe Holness hasn't been able to join us tonight. We all owe him a huge debt for his achievement in establishing a special day to remember the police service and the sacrifice made by officers. National Police Memorial Day grows in stature year on year as it becomes more and more embedded in the calendar of commemorations.

On 25th of this month we will be joined in St Paul's by over 2,200 police officers and their families to remember police officers who over the past three centuries have died on duty, or more tragically still, have had their lives savagely taken from them while trying to perform their public duty.

We will never forget them, as dedicated public servants, who ever since the first watchman walked his beat, have continued to be prepared to put themselves in harm's way. Many of us, particularly on the day, will think of colleagues with whom we served and will remember them as close and dear friends with families that loved them. Our thoughts will also be with the bereaved families. For them the loss of a loved one is an enduring grief that time cannot heal.

In one respect I'm pleased to hear that the roll of honour continues to grow. Thanks to ongoing diligent research more names of officers whose names would otherwise be lost to us in the distant past are being uncovered. It is right and proper that we honour their memory by adding their names to the list giving truth to the pledge that we will never forget them.

But more sadly the roll of honour grows each year because officers continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Five officers died last year. And this year Police Scotland experienced a loss when Constable Douglas Wiggins died on duty. Since records began over 4,000 names are now on that roll.

I hope you will forgive me if I digress just slightly but this is an important audience for what I'm about to mention.

I believe, as most of us do in this room, that society and the police service have a binding social contract with each other. Like the constitution it's not written down anywhere. But it is a widely understood mutual obligation and is what National Police Memorial Day recognises. In return for officers being prepared to run each day the risk of injury or even loss of life we expect the Government, on behalf of society, to look after our personal welfare and that of our dependants.

An example of that is the decision taken by the Government in 2011 that the physical demands and stresses of a police career would make serving beyond 60 a difficult challenge for most officers.

Unfortunately for the CNC, an anomaly in the Public Service Pensions Act, confirmed just over two weeks ago by the High Court, has excluded our members from that relief, universal to the police service, of retiring at 60.

The curious thing is that all the parties to our Judicial Review agreed that there was little or no prospect of any CNC officer being physically capable of serving beyond 60. I'm not even sure the Judge was happy. We are taking this as a hopeful sign that the Government is uncomfortable with the implications of that purely legalistic ruling.

There is no disputing that the decision might have serious implications for the long term viability of the CNC. I am pleased to report that the Energy Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, although extremely busy in her role in the newly constituted Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is offering to meet us next month.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mike Griffiths, our Chief Constable, Sir Philip Trousdell, our Police Authority chairman, and Simon Chesterman, our Deputy Chief Constable and National Police Chief Counsel Lead on Firearms for the open way they have not hesitated to make our argument for a realistic retirement age in the right quarters.

By the way, every single parliamentarian will have received, as of yesterday, a short two minute video on the work of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. Please watch it and you will realise the extent to which we have kept our crucial role in national security somewhat low key.

I now call upon our host Mr Jamie Reed MP to say a few words. Jamie is also Vice-chairman of the All Party Group on Nuclear Energy which is quite appropriate for the occasion.

He will be followed on behalf of the National Police Memorial Day Trust by Mark Lindsay who is a Trustee and of course Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

Mr Reed...