Pension blow for injured police officers

HUNDREDS of police officers made to retire after suffering serious injuries on duty face pension cuts as forces make savings during the recession.

Retired officers from Yorkshire, including some in their 70s and 80s, have been told they stand to lose cash they have come to rely on as they cope with debilitating medical conditions.

Several police forces, including West and North Yorkshire, are cutting the amount they pay in injury pension awards to men and women forced to quit after being attacked or injured in accidents.

One man stands to see his income fall by more than 10,000 a year as the region's police authorities tighten their belts during the economic crisis.

A Home Office circular encouraging authorities to cut spending on injury pensions was issued five years ago, but the National Association of Retired Police Officers (Narpo) has reported a recent surge in reviews.

Narpo president Eric Evans said: "Where is the consideration and protection for those of our members who are approaching the twilight of their lives already limited by the injuries they have received and all the difficulties those disabilities bring?

"They are now being threatened with a virtually automatic reduction in their income which will be impossible for them to make up in any way at their age.

"It's bound to affect their standard of life, while the police authority will congratulate itself on relatively low overall savings from this exercise."

Narpo has accused West Yorkshire Police of being among the harshest forces and claimed Northumbria Police only began making cuts last month.

Although the Home Office circular recommends that retired officers should not normally face reviews after they have reached the age of 65, older pensioners in West Yorkshire have been told to undergo medicals.

They include a retired sergeant who now fears he could lose his home – 36 years after he left Bradford City Police. The widower, who asked not to be named, suffered numerous injuries during a police career which included two car crashes and two serious assaults. "It is insulting my intelligence. I've had 36 years back and forth between hospitals and clinics."

Reductions are going on in North Yorkshire, where the police authority's injury pension budget has been slashed by 600,000 this year, although reviews have stopped for pensioners aged over 66.

Chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation's joint branch board Mark Botham said the policy had resulted in younger retired officers being tested more frequently – and led to a sharp rise in appeals.

"The pension fund is consistently being cut back. I think we underestimate the impact this has on people who have got to relive all over again dramatic events which resulted in them receiving the injury award."

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said it "periodically reviewed" awards made to officers who retired on ill health grounds. "This is to establish their loss of earnings capability causally linked to an injury received in execution of duties.

"All cases are reviewed by a medical advisor and carried out to ensure recipients receive their correct entitlement."

North Yorkshire Police was unavailable for comment.