Headlines: November 14th, 2002

Five police forces in England and Wales are to pilot a plan which would allow them to hold on to some of their longest-serving officers in an effort to keep their skills and experience within the police service.Schemes to retain officers who have completed 30-years service will run in the Avon and Somerset, North Wales, West Mercia and West Midlands force areas and in the Metropolitan Police.

Home Office Minister John Denham said the ’30 Plus’ scheme would enable forces to retain the skills of officers who, having completed 30 years’ service, were entitled to retire with maximum benefits. It is hoped the scheme will ease possible recruitment shortfalls and help police numbers to rise and to be maintained at the higher levels.

Officers who wish to participate will have to apply for selection. A tax-free retirement lump sum will be payable on their reaching 30-years service and they can be re-engaged at their former pay level with pension abatement lifted to allow for any replacement allowances lost on retirement to be made good. Those taking part will still have access to Special Priority Payments on the same basis as other officers but will not be able to re-join the Police Pension Scheme.

Toby Harris, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority welcomed the idea.” The MPA has long been pressing for much more flexibility in police employment . It is quite wrong to see experience, skills and enthusiasm draining unnecessarily from the Met because of rigid and old fashioned employment restrictions,” he said.

The scheme is to be Treasury funded, but Mr.Harris said it was too early to estimate its long term costs.