News

Misuse of Force Computers

There has been a significant rise in the number of officers receiving Regulation Notices which refer to the Misuse of Force computer systems.

Everybody should be aware of the logon notification with regard to accessing  and using  the force systems, and yet it would appear that many of you are ignoring the warning.

It is therefore necessary to re issue some advice on this matter and in particular draw your attention to a Joint Branch Board Circular No. 030/2010 which is titled "APPLICATIONS FOR CRIMINAL / MISCONDUCT ADVICE IN RELATION TO THE USE OF POLICE COMPUTER SYSTEMS FOR A 'POLICING PURPOSE'".

The misuse of the computer systems and its data is taken very seriously as highlighted in the following paragraphs from the document:

Officers who access computer systems for a non authorised purpose are liable to be prosecuted for the criminal offences of 'unauthorised access' under section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990 or obtaining or disclosing or procuring the disclosure of data for a 'non authorised purpose' under section 55 Data Protection Act 1998.

Offences of this nature can be punishable with imprisonment. Officers are also liable to face
misconduct proceedings for failure to meet the appropriate standards of 'confidentiality' or 'orders and instructions' and these can be assessed as gross misconduct.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reading this document below thoroughly.

JBB Circular

APPLICATIONS FOR CRIMINAL / MISCONDUCT ADVICE IN RELATION TO THE USE OF POLICE COMPUTER SYSTEMS FOR A 'POLICING PURPOSE'

Police Officers are in an extremely privileged position in that they have access to both the Police National Computer (PNC) and Force Intelligence Systems on a daily basis. Many requests for legal assistance are received from members who have been served with Regulation 15 notices in relation to their use of police computer systems.

In an effort to get a clearer understanding of what constitutes and what does not constitute a "policing purpose" in connection to any checks of police computer systems, advice has been obtained from Russell Jones & Walker.

Chief Officers are authorised to retain, control and use data for a "police purpose". This essentially means the investigation, detection and prevention of crime. Whilst almost all police officers can access police computer systems for an authorised purpose, there have been many examples of officers accessing systems for a non authorised purpose. This Circular is therefore intended to give some guidance on what is a non authorised purpose.

Officers who access computer systems for a non authorised purpose are liable to be prosecuted for the criminal offences of 'unauthorised access' under section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990 or obtaining or disclosing or procuring the disclosure of data for a 'non authorised purpose' under section 55 Data Protection Act 1998. Offences of this nature can be punishable with imprisonment. Officers are also liable to face misconduct proceedings for failure to meet the appropriate standards of 'confidentiality' or 'orders and instructions' and these can be assessed as gross misconduct.

Generally, an authorised purpose is the investigation of crime. However, it would be a mistake for a police officer to conduct or request a check on a police computer system in any matter that related to them personally, without first obtaining the approval of a line manager.

For example, conducting a vehicle check on a vehicle registered to a neighbour, or on a vehicle registered to an estranged partner's new partner, or accessing a crime report in relation to a friend, who has been a victim of crime, are likely to be viewed as checks for personal reasons and not for a legitimate police purpose.

The reported case of DPP v BIGNALL 119981 1 Cr. App. R 1 suggests that if a police officer has general authority to access police computer systems he does not commit the offence of unauthorised access contrary to the Computer Misuse Act. However, in this case the Divisional Court made it clear that the officers could have been prosecuted under the Data Protection Act or dealt with under the police disciplinary proceedings. This was confirmed in the later House of Lords case of R V Bow Street Magistrates Court Ex p. Allinson (No.2) 120001 1 Cr. App. R. 61 which additionally said that the fact that a police officer had a general authority to access police computer systems did not mean that he had authority to access for a non authorised purpose.

Most Forces have issued internal standard operating procedures (SOPs) which define the limits of a police officer's authority to access police computer systems. Any departure from these SOPs is likely to be viewed as a non-authorised purpose which could result in the officer being prosecuted or disciplined. Officers should familiarise themselves with their Force's SOP. However, the best advice is that if there is any doubt as to whether a particular check is authorised or not, an officer should obtain the approval in writing of a line manager before conducting any such check.

'Police Friends' should be careful in relation to conducting any checks in the preparation of the defence on behalf of an officer facing investigation or proceedings. Friends will be aware of the penultimate paragraph of page 9 of the Home Office Guidance on Police Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures which provides guidance on the role of the friend and states It is not the role of the friend to conduct his or her own investigation into the matter.

Whilst R v Chief Constable of The North Wales Police force ex parte CON NAH (which is in the Police Federation Conduct Manual 2008) confirms that a friend is entitled to prepare the accused officer's defence, including the interviewing of witnesses without the interference of the Force or the investigating officer, it would not be appropriate for the friend to conduct checks on the police computer system to ascertain whether a complainant or witness was 'known to police'. Paragraph 351 of the IPCC Statutory Guidance (April 2010) also confirms the Information Commissioner's view that a routine enquiry on the PNC for any previous convictions of a complainant is a breach of the data protection principle that information should be used for the purpose for which it was collected, i.e. the prevention and detection of crime.

As such information would be a matter of record; the appropriate course would be to invite the investigating officer to conduct such checks under the Guidance paragraph 2.117. This would protect the friend from any suggestion that this was an unauthorised access.

From the research conducted it can be concluded that there is very limited legitimate access to police computer systems and if the access is not in relation to the investigation, detection or prevention of crime then that access will be deemed as for a non authorised purpose.

To further emphasise the seriousness of non authorised access, a recent crown court case involved an officer who accessed a force intelligence system in relation to checks on their and an expartners motor vehicle. This access resulted in several charges of 'Misconduct in a Public Office' and a subsequent sentence of 9 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years.

In sentencing the officer the Judge said; 'In the modern world it is axiomatic (self evident/obvious) the police must hold huge amounts of information about all citizens. ....It is vital we all have confidence in its safekeeping and those who have access to it. Any misuse of that access by a public servant brings the system into disrepute. It undermines the trust the public may have in the police"

This gives a clear warning to members of the seriousness in which non authorised access of police computer systems is viewed and it is essential that if any member has a doubt about the validity of a particular check, they should seek guidance and authority from a supervisor or manager before carrying out such a check. If authority is not given then the member should not carry out the check.

This needs to be borne in mind when assessing requests for legal assistance in accordance with the 'Funding Criteria' as although any checks may have occurred whilst the member was on duty, if they have not been conducted for an authorised purpose as outlined above, then they cannot be construed as being in the performance or purported performance of their duties as a member of a police force and therefore funding for legal advice and/or representation is likely to be refused.

The contents of this circular need to be clearly emphasised and brought to the attention of the wider membership.

If you have any queries with regard to this circular, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Deputy General Secretary

Lobbying Your Local MP

MP’s Surgeries

MP Surgery Date Location & Time Contact No.
Karen Bradley 14 October and 25 November Leek 1600-1700 01538 382393
4 November and 16 December Biddulph 1600-1700
14 October Kingsley 1730-1830
4 November Ipstones 1730-1830
25 November Warslow 1730-1830
16 December Werrington 1730-1830

Aidan Burley

29 September

Rugeley 1400-1630

01543 502447

21 October Hednesford 1400-1630

William Cash

None planned

 

01785 811000

Michael Fabricant

15 October

Lichfield 1000

01543 419650

Jeremy Lefroy

1 October

Castle Street, Stafford 1000-1200

01785 252477

7 October Penkridge 1730-1900
14 October Auden Way, Stafford 1300-1500
28 October Anson Court. Stafford 1730-1900
21 October Brocton 1800-1930

Chris Pincher

11 November

Fazeley

01827 312778

25 November Lichfield

Gavin Williamson

24 September

Essington 1200-1330

Lower Penn 1400-1530

01902 701479

Andrew Griffiths

1 October

Burton

01283 564934

Paul Farrelly

1st Friday of the month

Newcastle Library 1600-1730

 

01782 715033

3rd Friday of the month Newcastle Library 1300-1430

Robert Flello

1st Saturday of the month

PM

 

01782 844810

3rd Friday of the month AM

Tristram Hunt

1st, 3rd and 4th Friday of the month

Citizens Advice Bureau, Hanley 1600-1700

Stoke Library 1300-1400

City Waterside Centre, Hanley 1700-1800

Bentilee 1000-1100

Stoke Library 1300-1400

01782 410455

Joan Walley

21 October

Kidsgrove 1000

Tunstall Library 1330

01782 577900

House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Dear ......................

Federation Open Meeting – 19 September 2011

This is to inform you that the Police Federations within the West Midlands Region, being Staffordshire, West Midlands, West Mercia and Warwickshire, held the above mentioned open meeting at the Burlington Hotel, New Street, Birmingham.

The meeting was attended by over 400 police officers, 60 of which were from Staffordshire Police, who all wished to voice opinions on the proposed 20% cuts to the policing budget and the subsequent loss of 16,000 police officers nationwide.

Within Staffordshire the financial glide path to 2014-2015 signifies a loss of nearly 400 officers from a Force establishment of 2100 to 1770 police officers.

The meeting was themed around the publication of a booklet, which documented individual officers’ experiences whilst policing the August riots in the West Midlands region.

I have enclosed a copy of this booklet for your attention and I know you will agree that it is an impactive document which highlights the substantial bravery, commitment and goodwill that police officers invest in their role to protect the communities within our region.

This commitment and goodwill is tested to the limit when we have politicians, such as the Prime Minister, coming back from holiday claiming it was their actions that stopped the violence.  This is completely untrue as operational policing decisions are, and quite rightly should be, the decisions taken by senior police officers.

Even whilst the riots were still on going Mr. Cameron commented that this will not change the Government’s position on Police Reform.  This has been viewed by the rank and file police officers as derisory as to their commitment over this testing period of time.

No doubt a substantial number of police officers within Staffordshire will be communicating with you on this subject and as the Secretary of their representative body, I look forward to receiving your views on this document and what support you can continue to give to Staffordshire Police officers who remain committed to keeping our communities safe.

Yours sincerely,

Dean Colley
Joint Branch Board Secretary

Support From Unison

Paul McKeever, Chairman of the PFEW has recevied a supportive letter from the General Secretary of Unison wishing the Police Federation a successful Open Meeting on 13 July 2011.

Royal Commission

Colleagues,

Q)    Why do we want a Royal Commission into Policing?

A)    Because we want a Police Service that properly reflects the needs of the public it serves. The last Royal Commission took place way back in 1962 when our community and the policing of it was very different, (the Police did not even have radios back then), and a lot has changed in the mean time. Over the years there has been a lot of tinkering with the service, but nothing which has properly and objectively looked at Policing as a whole. Now, more than ever, is the time for a complete "root and branch" review to enable the Police to deliver a much better service to its communities.

We are rightly proud of the reputation and standing of the British Police Service the world over and together we will do all we can to preserve all that is good about it.

A senior Tory peer has called for a Royal Commission into policing - something which the Police Federation has also been urging, but which has been strenuously resisted by successive government ministers.

The call came from Viscount Bridgeman in a Lords debate on policing ahead of the Police Bill, which will introduce elected 'crime commissioners' to replace police authorities and create a new national crime agency in place of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.

The peer, who is the Conservative's spokesman for home affairs in the Lords, said that there had been radical changes in virtually everything that affects police work since the last Royal Commission in 1962.

"Is it not time for another Royal Commission which would, I hope, pre-empt the need for a succession of piecemeal police legislation to which we have been subjected in the recent past?" he asked.

A Police Federation spokesman calls on everyone who cares about policing to support the campaign for a Royal Commission on Policing. " With the abolition of Police Authorities, the election of Police Commissioners, reports and recommendations by Hutton and Winsor and the selling of Police functions to the private sector it is clear that the future of Policing can only be established through a Royal Commission. This piecemeal approach to Policing must end. "

A Police Federation spokesman said: "Big things are asked of the police. But when it comes to the fundamentals, we seem to ask the wrong questions at the wrong time.

"After 40-plus years of knee-jerk legislation, it's time for some fresh thinking on the role of the police - what society's expectations are and how we police the 21st Century.

"The reforms which police have faced over recent years have been piecemeal. A new law here, a new regulation there - all lead to confusion of perspectives and policy.

"Not since the 1960s has government stopped and asked: 'What do we want our police to do, how do we want them to do it and what rights and responsibilities do the police and society have towards each other?'

"Given how society, culture, history, the economy and the country have changed since the 1960s, it's now time to take a long, hard look at all the issues and ask some somewhat overdue long-term questions."

TO ASSIST YOU WE HAVE NOW OBTAINED PRE-PRINTED POSTCARDS WHICH CAN BE SENT TO YOUR MP.  THESE WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE AT THE FORTHCOMING ROADSHOWS.  IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND PLEASE COLLECT ONE FROM THE FEDERATION OFFICE.

Lobbying Your Local MP

As part of the campaign strategy that is continuing to roll out, the Federation website now contains a lobbying tool which enables members to email their MPs directly.

This is the link which we encourage you to click on: http://www.polfed.org/get_involved.asp

The first campaign focuses on supporting  Early Day Motion No. 1604, the tabling of which was secured following contact that West Mids JBB had with one of their MPs.

It works by first entering a postcode. The user is then taken through to an area where they will see the template email that has been automatically produced and addressed to the appropriate MP for that postcode. The user can then simply enter their details and send it off or they can choose to change the wording if they so wish. We are planning to create other email campaigns in this way, each focussing on different topics – we will keep you posted. Lobbying your MP is important for a number of reasons:·

  • To influence a decision which is about to be made by parliament;
  • To gain their help with your campaign - MPs can take a number of actions: submit parliamentary questions, write a letter to the relevant minister, arrange a meeting with the minister responsible.
  • To force an MP to show where their allegiances lie

You can lobby your MP by:·

  • Setting up a meeting
  • Writing a letter or email
  • Using the local media

How to find out your MP’s contact details: Who is my MP?

You can find out who your local MP is by typing your postcode into this website theyworkforyou.com

You can write to your MP at the House of Commons by addressing your letter:

MP’s name
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Staffordshire MP's

MP Party Constituency Majority
Karen Bradley Conservative Staffs Moorlands 6689
Aidan Burley Conservative Cannock Chase 3195
William Cash Conservative Stone 13292
Michael Fabricant Conservative Lichfield 17683
Paul Farrelly Labour Newcastle under Lyme 1552
Robert Flello Labour Stoke on Trent South 4130
Tristram Hunt Labour Stoke on Trent Central 5566
Jeremy Lefroy Conservative Stafford 5460
Christopher Pincher Conservative Tamworth 6090
Joan Walley Labour Stoke on Trent North 8235
Gavin Williamson Conservative South Staffs 16590
Andrew Griffiths Conservative Burton 6304

The Winsor Review of Police Remuneration

23 November 2011

The PAT Hearing concluded yesterday and their decision is now awaited.  No timescale has been given for the decision.   We will update you with any further developments.

 

9th May 2011

A letter has been sent to the PFEW Chairman from Tom Winsor regarding the timetable for Part 2 of his review.It indicates that the Consultation Document will be out shortly, that the consultation period will run until August 2011 and that the final report will be published in January 2012.

Tom Winsor states "I should not wish Part 2 to distract from this important work.  It is the opinion of a considerable proportion of the people who are interested in Part 2 that the scope of issues to be considered are too complex and potentially critical for the future of the police service for it to be rushed in the short time between the publication of Part 1 and the end of June 2011.  As I know you appreciate Part 1 was necessarily constrained by the need to recommend changes which, if accepted, could be brought into effect in time for the beginning of the new pay year in September 2011.  That timetable meant that it was necessary for the review to defer to Part 2 some of the more complex and difficult subjects in the terms of reference.

For these reasons I asked the Home Secretary for an extension of Part 2 to 31 January 2012.  She has agreed to this.  This additional time enables the review to include three months for consultation, to enable you and your colleagues to provide fully developed, considered and detailed submissions."  He went on to say "I envisage that Part 2 will consider and address some of the fundamental issues that have been facing policing for some time, including:

  • the basic pay of police officers, including the quantification of the 'x-factor'
  • whether invididual contribution or performance should affect pay
  • whether skills or roles should affect pay
  • polie officer entry routes, including considering direct-and multi-entry routes
  • the length of the officer career, including a consideration of the idea of short-medium-and long-term commissions
  • the negotiating mechanisms themselves; and
  • the phased introduction of some or all of the recommended reforms."

3rd May 2011

A Federation newsletter is now available giving an update on both the Winsor and Hutton reports, also detailing what activity is  taking place.  The newsletter is available from your local Federation Representative or by following the link :

www.polfed.org

14th April 2011

On 7 April, at the first meeting of the PNB Pay & Conditions Working Group, the Official Side presented Staff Side with a letter in respect of the Winsor Recommendations.

This statement will be available on the PFEW website  www.polfed.org and we will keep you updated on the progress of the negotiations. I thank you for your continued support.

4th April 2011

Responding to the Written Ministerial Statement released today by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, stating all proposals put forward by Tom Winsor will go to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) and Police Advisory Board (PAB) as a matter of urgency, Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales says;

“Whilst these are merely proposals at this stage we remain extremely disappointed that Tom Winsor's report fails to demonstrate any evidence based methodology or reasoning. Even more disappointing is that the Home Secretary is choosing to put forward a flawed report of personal views, not evidence, to the Police Negotiating Board.

"We expect the Police Negotiating Board will give each proposal the in-depth analysis and consideration it deserves before any decision on any of the proposals is made. To make any changes to police terms and conditions, the unique working arrangements and special relationship the police have in society must at all times be borne in mind.

“Whilst police officers understand that these are just proposals at this stage, they are putting their last ounce of faith in this government to honour the processes and procedures in place to protect their unique working status. It is therefore incumbent on the Home Secretary that she honours the decisions of the negotiating machinery.

“Many of the proposals put forward in the Winsor Report cause grave concern and consternation amongst the rank and file, particularly as some officers would suffer a pay cut of up to £4000.  It is clear that police officers will be the biggest victims of the financial cuts in the public sector as this would be in addition to a two year pay freeze and possible increased pension costs. The 20% budget cuts imposed by this government will not only see a reduction in the numbers of officers fighting crime but will also impact on the unique working arrangements of police officers which reflect the dangerous and often thankless job they do.”

21st March 2011

On Friday 18th March 2011, we became aware of the circulation of an e-mail communication from Tom Winsor to Chief Constables requesting their urgent assistance and co-operation in ensuring that their police officers and staff are properly informed about the likely effects of the implementation of his review of pay and conditions. He asked them to circulate a letter and a ready reckoner that is also available on his review website, which he states officers and staff can use to dispel misleading information about the effects that his proposals will have on police pay.      This resulted in my communication below, from which it is clearly evident that Tom Winsor is being selective as to the information he wants officers to focus on and is a blatant attempt to generate support for his proposals by creating uncertainty and division between officers. This is particularly disappointing considering that the Home Secretary has yet to inform the Police Negotiating Board as to which of his proposals she considers should be the subject of negotiation. The adoption of this strategy by Tom Winsor clearly shows that his review, which proposes to remove almost £500M from police pay, can now be seen for exactly what it is, a cynical attack to reduce police pay and conditions.

It is important that you are aware of the full facts and not fooled by this misleading information provided by Winsor. I have therefore asked your local Federation to bring this information to the attention of your Chief Constable, requesting that they give my communication equal prominence with that of the Winsor Pay Calculator in any of their communications, including the force website. I would hope that as good employers and leaders of the service, Chief Constables would want to ensure that their officers are aware of the full facts. I await confirmation of their support and will keep you informed of their co-operation, however it would be inappropriate not to congratulate Simon Ash, the Chief Constable of Suffolk, who I understand is the first to refuse. We can only hope that this is not an indication of his support for the Winsor proposals, particularly as he represents ACPO on the Official Side of PNB, although one would hope that he would represent the views all the Chief Constables not just his own.

To ensure that you are fully informed, I also include below my earlier communication of 11th March that includes previously circulated information identifying the detrimental impact the Winsor proposals will have on officers’ pay and conditions.

We are grateful for your continued support during this difficult time for policing.

18th March 2011

Dear Colleagues

I would like to draw your attention to the following website which shows the effect on an officer’s income of the Winsor recommendations: http://review.police.uk/publications/review-recommendations.

After inputting the required information, many members will find that their pay falls as a result of these changes.  Even for those whose pay appears to rise, it is important to remember that these calculations only show changes to income in cash terms.  Inflation is currently running at 5% and is forecast to be close to this level for at least the next 12 months, so the value of basic pay will fall as a result of the two-year pay freeze which the Government wishes to impose upon us.  These calculations also take no account of the fact that under the Winsor recommendations officers will not move up their pay increments. This means that if an officer is not at the top of his or her pay scale, their pay will actually be lower than it would otherwise have been, despite any increases that result from Mr Winsor’s recommendations. I should also point out, for your information, that while Mr Winsor factors in pension contribution increases, these have yet to be discussed by the Police Negotiating Board, and we have been assured that discussions will take place there before any increases are implemented. In common with all other employees, though, from April 2011 there will be several changes to the income tax and national insurance regimes. In particular:

 

  • The income tax personal allowance will rise to £7,475, but the salary level at which employees begin to pay the higher rate of income tax (40%) will fall from £37,400 per annum to £35,000 per annum.
  • Employee national insurance contribution (NIC) rates will rise from 11% to 12% for those who earn between £139 a week and up to £817 a week and from 1% to 2% for those who earn anything over £817 per week.

 

The effect of this is that employees with total earnings of more than £35,000 a year will find themselves paying more in income tax and national insurance contributions.  I hope that you find this information helpful to understand the true impact of the Winsor recommendations on you take home pay. The PFEW will engage fully on negotiations over these recommendations, but we have no intention of agreeing to any changes which would see a fall in our members’ pay and conditions of service. As I have tried to do throughout this process, I will continue to keep you updated on developments.

Dowload The Winsor Review (Adobe PDF)

Pensions

May 2011

The revised commutation factors for the Police Pension Scheme (PPS) 1987,  have just been issued by the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). The new factors will apply to any member who retires on or after 20 April 2011.  The factors for all ages have been increased.

However, please note that, as some of the revised commutation factors are now higher than 20:1, there may be tax implications for some members. This is because the value of the commuted lump sum may now exceed the maximum permitted by HMRC, which is currently 25% of the total value of benefits vested. If the commuted lump sum does exceed the HMRC limit of 25%, the amount of the lump sum in excess of that limit will be deemed an unauthorised payment and subject to a 40% tax charge.

I would recommend members seek independent financial advice on their own particular circumstances. Disappointingly we were only informed of these changes by the Home Office yesterday.

I understand that they will shortly promulgate a Home Office Circular on the revised commutation factors, which I will ensure is circulated.

To view the new commutation factors please visit the national website www.polfed.org

The Chairman’s and General Secretary’s office are taking every opportunity when meeting with parliamentarians, media and other stakeholders to discuss in detail our concerns about government plans for police pensions as well  as the threat of detrimental change to police officer terms and conditions of service.

This week (14th January) Police Review is highlighting the ‘Protect the Police Pension’ campaign.

We have been speaking with Police Review about this campaign which aims to highlight the concerns police officers have about possible future changes to police pensions.

Please find attached a PDF of a letter that will appear in Police Review that can be printed off by members, completed and sent off to their local MP.

We support this campaign and in Police Review there will be a guest editorial by Chairman, Paul McKeever, in relation to this.

Download Police Pensions Letter (Adobe PDF)

Hutton Report

May 2011

A Federation newsletter detailing the current activity is now available from your local representative or by following the link:

www.polfed.org

March 2011

Lord Hutton of Furness has today published his final report setting out his recommendations to the Government on public service pension arrangements that are sustainable and affordable in the long term and fair to both the public service workforce and the taxpayer, while protecting accrued rights.The final report is available today via the following link:

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pensionscommission

Please press F5 to refresh the page if you find it is not available.

Responding to the Hutton Review of pensions published today, Simon Reed, Vice-Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, says:

"This is a further kick in the teeth for police officers. In a matter of weeks we have been told we'll face a two-year pay freeze, the Winsor Report which may see officers losing thousands of pounds per annum and now this.

"Does this government really want a Dad's Army of policing? Whilst experience counts, the dangers for the public of sending in 60-year old police officers to deal with public order situations and Friday night drunken brawls seems obvious.

"We have yet to meet with the Home Office to discuss the specifics of what officers will be expected to pay, but let's not forget we already had changes to the police pension scheme in 2006. To that end, officers are already expected to work longer and receive less."

October 2010

On 7 October 2010 the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission led by Lord Hutton has published its interim report. This report can be found at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/hutton_pensionsinterim_071010.pdf

We are informed by the Home Office that the Government will give careful consideration to Lord Hutton’s recommendations before responding to the report. However, on initial reading of the 176-page report, the emerging theme is that “if the Government wishes to make short-term savings, then raising contribution rates would be the most effective way”, as opposed to reducing the level of benefits. The Commission also recommends that, in doing so the Government “should have regard to protecting the low paid and should not introduce contribution rates for the Armed Forces at this time.”

Aside from this, the recommendations are not scheme-specific and there is no suggestion as to how far contribution rates should rise. This means that there is no definite indication as to the implications, if any, for police pensions. In its report, the Commission concludes that the cost of funding public sector schemes has risen, within an increasing burden being shouldered by the tax-payer. According to the Commission, in many public sector pension schemes, at the time when they were initially established employees paid approximately half of the cost of funding those schemes, while today they pay somewhere between a fifth and a third of the cost of accrual. Although the Commission does not make this explicit, members of police pension schemes are at the top end of this range. The report also notes the relatively high contribution rate of police officers. While drawing no conclusions from this, it is also worth noting that the report contains far more analysis of the Local Government and NHS Pension Schemes.

The Government will now consider Lord Hutton’s recommendations before deciding on whether or not to accept this recommendation. Our understanding is that it is then for each scheme funder to consider the how they will take these recommendations forward, if accepted by Government. In the case of policing this would have to go through the Police Negotiating Board. However, you will also be aware that the Home Secretary has appointed Tom Winsor to undertake an independent review of police pay and conditions and it is possible that the recommendations of Lord Hutton may be explored within that separate review. We also still await the outcome of the Government Actuaries Department valuation of the Police Pension Scheme that is to take effect from April 2011.   Lord Hutton will also produce a final report in time for the Budget in 2011, which will look at longer-term structural reform of public sector pensions. This may include whether or not it is appropriate for schemes to move from a final salary basis to that of a career average. It will also look at whether there needs to be changes to retirement ages within each scheme.I will keep you informed of further developments.

The Staff Side response to the review of Public Sector Pensions by Lord Hutton is now available on the PFEW website.

www.polfed.org