NPCC and APCC 'did not know implications of new pensions rules’

Police leaders have refuted the Prime Minister’s assertion that they have known about almost £420 million of budget cuts for a long while. 

Oct 25, 2018
By Neil Root

Theresa May told MPs that pensions rule changes due to be implemented next year, and could lead to the loss of 10,000 officers, was an issue that “has been known about for some years”. 

In an unusual step, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) issued a joint statement in response to her comments at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 24). 

In the statement issued today (October 25), Chief Constable Sara Thornton, chair of the NPCC, and Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of the APCC, stated that while they have known about the proposed police pension changes since September this year, they have had no guidance or a timeline for those changes to be put into effect. 

And they warned that if the changes are implemented in 2019 they “would undoubtedly significantly damage the service we can provide to the public”. 

The statement reads: “While policing has been aware of proposed future changes to pension valuations, no guidance has been given to what that would mean in terms of costs for employers or a timeline for implementation of those changes. 

“Police and crime commissioners, who have to make decisions over precept levels shortly, have not been able to include this in their financial planning.  The first notification that has enabled forces to calculate the impact of pension changes came in September 2018. 

“If the cost of these changes are passed on to policing next year it could mean the loss of up to 10,000 officers from an already badly overstretched service at a time of increasing crime and serious threats.” 

Mrs May was responding to a question from Labour MP Judith Cummins about police funding and crime rates. Referring to the loss of more than 200 officers in West Yorkshire if the new pensions costs are passed on to policing, Ms Cummins said: “The police should be fighting crime and not fighting for funding.” 

To which the Prime Minister replied: “This is an issue that has been known about for some years.” 

Speaking at the Excellence in Policing conference in September, Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for finance and resources, said that the proposed pension re-evaluation was his “biggest worry” and represented a looming challenge ahead of the next spending review due to take place next year.  

Mr Thompson said then: “The impact could be really significant. It’s a looming challenge that we are working through. Our general advice is to panic slowly, and we are working with government on this.” 

Mr Thompson commented today (October 25): “It is an extraordinary amount of money policing has been asked to pay with no notice and with no proper consultation. A serious rethink is needed.” 

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