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Fed backs campaign to allow police widows to keep pensions

Money by Rosie Andrews 3The Police Federation of England and Wales is backing a campaign to allow police widows and widowers to keep their pensions for life, regardless of whether they remarry or move in with a new partner.

Kate Hall, whose husband Colin died on duty in 1987, has launched a petition for a change in pension regulations so that wives and husbands of fallen officers no longer have to choose between financial stability and finding a new relationship.

The Federation is urging more people to sign Ms Hall’s petition, which has already gained nearly 70,000 signatures. She needs 100,000 signatures before the petition can trigger a debate in Parliament.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “It is only right and fair that police widows should have the same rights and entitlements as those widows in the armed forces. They should not be punished for surviving a loved one.”

Adele Kirkwood, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales Legislation Sub-Committee, said: “These men and women have paid the ultimate price to keep their communities safe and are often the main breadwinners of the families they leave behind.

“Depriving widows of their pensions if they then go on to have another relationship seems like a double punishment and assumes that new partners are in a position to financially support widows and their children. This ultimately denies them money that is rightfully theirs, exposing them to financial hardship and is grossly unfair.”

Ms Hall’s campaign follows a change in regulations for widows of officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

From 1 July, widows in Northern Ireland whose pensions were ceased on re-marriage have had their pensions re-instated, although this currently does not include those widowed before 1 January 1989.

Ms Hall was just 24 when her husband, a police dog handler for West Midlands Police, died of a heart attack after being called to a disturbance at a block of flats.

Ms Hall met her new partner seven years later but lost her police pension in 2001 when they decided to live together as a couple.

Their daughter Kelly, who was four when her father died, is now engaged but cannot afford to get married. “This is something Colin would have done for her,” said Ms Hall.

The petition also has the support of Care of Police Survivors and the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO).

A Home Office spokeswoman noted that officers who join the 2006 police pension scheme do benefit from life-long pensions for widows and widowers and that all serving officers were offered the opportunity to transfer to this scheme when it was introduced.

“In common with most other public service pension schemes of the time, the 1987 pension was not designed or funded to provide such benefits,” she added. “Attempting to backdate this or any pension of this type, would have serious implications across the whole public sector.”

Date posted: December 4, 2014

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