The below is recent correspondence received from the South Yorkshire Joint Branch Board concerning advice they have obtained, independently of the national Police Federation, concerning the correctness of the legal advice previously obtained. It is clear from the opinion of a second QC that the likelihood of a successful challenge to the proposals for a new Police pension Scheme, made by the Home Secretary, is not good.

This is provided for your information.

Dean Colley

JBB Secretary

Staffordshire Police Federation.


As you will have been aware the recent proposed pension changes caused upset and anger among officers of all ages and ranks.

As your Federation we decided to get independent legal advice on top of that the National Federation had gained, our purpose to see if the initial advice was in fact correct.

To do this we picked an officer who was directly affected by the changes, we engaged the service of Wilford Smith Solicitors, totally independent of any Federation member service contracts. Our contact there was Steve Smith. In turn Dermot Hughes, a Barrister and David Lock QC, (David Lock is one of the best in his field with regards to pensions) looked into the case.

Neil Bowles and I have had a meeting with all three gents on this matter. We asked the questions that many have asked around this subject.

Firstly David Lock outlined the case we had, in his professional opinion his thoughts that the officer's overall rights were substantially unaffected. and as such there was no case to consider.

He went on to explain the law in respect of our challenge.

Pensions are a form of deferred pay which are accumulated by the employee for future pay. Mr lock considered whether or not the proposals are seeking to remove any accumulated benefits that the officers have accrued whilst the current scheme is operational, the answer to that is no. Officers can still get benefit of service under the PPS or the 2006 scheme when they retire.

As it stands we are offered some protection by Section 2 of the Pensions Act 1976, the government can repeals that through parliament, as long as they honour the accrued rights gained up any closing date of the current pension it can be done. Had the government failed to honour accrued rights then we could have made the challenge. So as long as the Police pensions Act 1976 remains in existence, Police Officers can expect that regulations will not provide that their pensions should not be reduced. Further any benefits that a police officer accumulates during his or her service under a pension scheme cannot be taken away. However the existence of the legislation does not contain any implied promise it will not be repealed by a future government or that it will continue for the whole career of a police officer.

The bottom line is this, the Government can make changes through parliament, there is no challenge unless the accrued rights are attacked, we will have to look at the paper on the 2015 scheme to see if it has any challenges, Mr locks view is that there will not be and that the Government will ensure all aspects of the new pension scheme is correct. We cannot do that until that scheme is outlined in full. We do not have a date for the scheme paperwork publication, suffice to say it’s still in its early stages. Also Section 2 will need to be repealed.

It is Mr locks view that the new pension scheme is still very favourable.

There is still work to do on this.

You will have seen the e-petition gain over the 100,000 signatures, this stirred the MP's, they held a 30 min debate on Police Pensions in Westminster Hall. I have been in contact with local MP's over this issue, our best supporter is Dan Jarvis, he has met with us on several occasions, his wish is to have a full parliamentary debate. He and Angela Smith were in the Hall for yesterday’s debate. MP's still need to know how it affects you. the link to that debate is here.

Many of you have showed anger at this, and I can see why. I have looked at what the Home Secretary proposed in her preferred Scheme, the age of 40 with less than 10 years’ service and 45. We were left with two choices, we either engaged with the government or let them get on with it. Our initial stance, and still is what we want is that the pension changes come into force for new starters as it did in the 2006 scheme. The government did not agree to that, it is this that we need to keep up the fight on, I hope that future debates in parliament or a no vote to change legislation is made by them.

Through consultation the federation have managed to change the age to 38 and have a tapering period included, not the best for all I agree, but its consultation only, leaves us with little or no say. We did go in with the "leave as it is" to start with. It does all add up to the anger at the overall attack on pay and conditions.