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Chairman's Blog

Pensions progress is key to retaining CNC officers

Mark Nelson, Chairman of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, outlines the latest developments in the ongoing work over our members' retirement age.

I think we've been making some real progress on the pension issue we are all facing as CNC officers.

Recently Our Chief Executive Nigel Dennis, the force's Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman and myself met with with senior pensions officials from Treasury and Cabinet Office to give them a full overview of why our members should be able to retire at 60.

It's important to remember that there is nowhere to go in our Constabulary should officers no longer be able to carry a firearm, and it was a useful meeting to update them on the training we go through, the work we do and the heavy equipment members carry.

I think one of the most pleasing aspects of the meeting was that we got to outline the strong financial case for lowering CNC officers' retirement age.

We discussed what kind of options would be available within the Alpha Pension Scheme (which is the revamped scheme for the Civil Service) should they let us go at 60 and undertakings were made by them to look at the issue.

There's a precedent within Alpha - prison governors for instance have an option to pay more and go earlier.

So, all this was discussed, it's positive but of course at this stage they are still discussions.

Part of the issue is of course the fitness tests for police officers, which is set at 7.6 on the bleep test for our officers. When you get to 60 a person's fitness falls off a 'cliff edge' so here we've got officers carrying 30 kg of equipment trying to maintain that 7.6 fitness level.

All these things stack against us, our officers just won't get to a national pension age of 67 or 68. They won't last that long.

These concerns are impacting on retention and recruitment, our attrition rate has soared to 11.7% - more than other Home Office forces.

I don't want us to become a training centre for other forces, and see our brilliant police officers leave to go to other forces so they can retire at 60.

If we don't have the officers we can't protect the establishments and we won't be able to contribute to the national surge capacity.

I know I don't have to spell out the dangers of that becoming a reality.

Another meeting will be on the agenda hopefully soon with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) The Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

It's great that with the encouragement of Ministers they are all talking - and talking to us about this.