Public Service Pensions Bill

Memorandum submitted by Simon Gray (PSP 27)

Dear Sir or Madam,

1. I write with reference to the Public Service Pensions Bill more specifically the proposed changes to the Police Pension Scheme 1987.

2. I am a serving police officer with Lancashire Constabulary. From a young age, it had always been my ambition to join the police as I wanted to serve the community and make a difference. I studied hard at school and college achieving 10 GCSE’s and 4 A-Levels. I secured a place at De-Montford University which I deferred for a year so that I could apply for the Police when I reached the minimum required age. I considered myself very privileged to pass the selection process on my first attempt and as such I have now served for just over 12 years. I have performed a number of diverse roles from uniformed response to a serious acquisitive crime team and I am now a qualified detective. I have also passed my sergeants exams and I await a board process.

3. I am extremely concerned with regards to the recent announcement surrounding police pensions. My circumstances mean that I will not qualify for the tempering period and as such come 2015 my 1987 scheme will cease and the proposal will see my pension move to a new 2015 scheme.

4. I feel this process is unfair, unjust and discriminates against people in my circumstances due to my age. I, like a number of officers in my position, are to be penalised for joining the service at a young age. This decision means that I will have to work a further 11 years to qualify for my full pension at 60. This means my total length of service will be 41 years instead of the current 30 years’ service.

5. In making these proposals I feel there is a complete lack of understanding of the role which a police officer undertakes. The mental and physical strain is untold. The abuse faced, grappling with dangerous people, working constant shifts, working late into the night at short notice then turning in early the following morning with little or no sleep, cancelled rest days, missed family events, eating at the wrong times, these are just some examples of what I have faced during my service. I find it wholly unreasonable to expect an aging workforce to undertake these commitments. For example, to expect somebody of 57 to be chasing and fighting with somebody half their age is simply unrealistic. I appreciate that an individual working in a safe office environment could work well into this age range but not somebody performing the role of a police officer.

6. I feel it has gone unnoticed that the average life expectancy of a police officer is little more than 59 years, 21 years less than the average person. I do not consider that it is fair or right to expect me to work until I am 60.

7. The proposals set out in Winsor part 2 also detail:

8. … that if I am injured in the line of duty I will be made redundant, meaning I am unable to draw my full pension. As I get older I am more susceptible to injury but I still have a duty to protect the public, last year’s riots are a stark reminder of the dangers we the police face.

9. … that if I fail a fitness test three times then I will be made redundant. I have no issue with the principle of fitness tests, I think they are long overdue, however any test should be properly considered before being introduced to ensure it is fair and equal. I ask however, how many people aged between 50 – 60 are asked to undertake and pass a regular fitness test? Is this reasonable and realistic?

10. I feel when you add these specific proposals in with the pension proposals then I am sadly being set up to fail and that I will never achieve my full pension entitlement anyway.

11. I have planned my life around the terms I signed up to when I joined. I am not married yet but I am due to marry next year. I have no children yet but we are planning children for next year. I consider myself a responsible person. I wanted to plan financially to support my family hence I have waited; I do not want to be in debt. I want my children to have the best upbringing which I can provide them. I have planned financially to see them through further education. These proposals have no consideration for people who have sound financially planning. I am expected to work longer, pay more and get far far less. I am being penalised for being responsible. This is unfair.

12. There are a number of radio and television adverts of late quoting "mis-sold your PPI?" Under these proposals, I have been mis-sold my police pension. The terms which I signed up for when I joined, effectively my police contract of employment was 30 years. There was never any suggestion that this would change. I fully accept this unique and difficult financial position this country finds itself in. I am happy to do my share, to pay more towards tax, national insurance and ultimately pension contributions but these proposals are a step too far. I gave up my place at University to join the police service. I gave up my chance to achieve a degree which could ultimately have afforded me other employment opportunities if needed. I passed on the opportunity to travel and see the world when I was younger, as many people do today, and chose to defer this until later in life. I am giving my best years to public service. I made these choices. What choice do I have now?

13. Again, I am being discriminated against because of my age. My unique position as a police officer is being taken advantage of. This is not right.

14. Section 2 of the Police Pensions Act 1976 was put in place to ensure that no police officer could be disadvantaged by any future changes to their pension. As a servant of the Crown I do not have industrial rights and I have to rely on legislation to safeguard my terms. The fact that to introduce these changes now is illegal and that you have to change legislation to allow this to change to occur demonstrates that what this government is doing is wrong.

15. My pension forms part of remuneration for my unique position as a police officer. I am never off duty, I do not have employment rights, I put my life on the line, I work countless hours without claim to ensure the job is done right.

16. The only fair and proper way to bring about these changes is to introduce them as the terms for all new officers joining the service. This approach provides them with the proper knowledge of the terms of employment and allows them to make an informed decision. To impose these changes on those officers within the existing pension schemes is simply unfair and wron g.

November 2012

Prepared 23rd November 2012