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Police pension changes could cost Thames Valley Police millions

District's Police and Crime Commissioner: “I hope common sense will prevail"

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas

fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886639

Police  called to affray at Newbury playground

PROPOSED changes to the police pension scheme could end up costing Thames Valley Police £14m a year, the district’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) has revealed.

Last month, it was announced that the Government wants police forces to contribute more to their employeepension schemes, asking them to fork out a 37 per cent hike in officers’ pensions.

But the controversial plans – unveiled by the Home Office – has prompted a backlash by police and crime commissioners and senior police chiefs across the country.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) say the proposed changes will cost forces in England and Wales £417m by 2020-21, putting 10,000 jobs on the line.

Pcc for West Midlands Police David Jamieson likened the proposals to a “hand grenade” being thrown at police budgets, while the force’s chief constable Dave Thompson labelled them as “utterly extraordinary”.

This week, Thames Valley Pcc Anthony Stansfeld joined others in voicing his concern at the proposals, which he says could cost his own force £14m a year.

Mr Stansfeld said: “If the proposals go through in the form we think they are going through, this is a serious cut in police funding.

“However, I think for all police and crime commissioners, this is a major cut and we hope it’s not going though in the form proposed.

“It would be a cut of about £14 million for Thames Valley Police if it went ahead, but I am reasonably optimistic it won’t go ahead at the moment.”

When asked how the six-figure sum would translate in number of TVP police staff, Mr Stansfeld responded that £1m “roughly” pays for around 20 police officers.

The NPCC – which represents police chiefs of the 43 local forces in England and Wales – has sent a formal letter to the Treasury saying it will seek judicial review of the Government’s proposals.

The Home Office is working closely with forces to understand the effect the change will have and is in discussions with police leaders about mitigating the impact.

Mr Stansfeld compared the suggestions to proposals put forward in 2015 by then chancellor George Osborne, who wanted to axe the police funding formula by a quarter.

At the time, Mr Stansfeld signed a joint letter with other Pccs to the Government that a judicial review would be sought if the changes were not halted.

Speaking about the timing of the government’s latest proposal to heap more pressure on police budgets by increasing pension contributions on top of the 19 per cent cut in police funding since 2010, Mr Stansfeld said: “It just suddenly slipped out and the size of it was not appreciated beforehand.

“We get the annual budget in December and we will know if the chancellor and the Government have taken heed on this one.

“But to have all this money taken away for a pension provision is rather depressing.

“My gut feeling on this is – as has been said a great deal by police forces and police and crime commissioners – that it won’t go through.

“I hope common sense will prevail.”

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