Nobody can doubt that the bravery and commitment required by police officers in the line of duty is something we should admire and reward, writes Gloria De Piero MP.
That is why I was shocked to learn that this Government made changes to Police pension regulations in 2015 which created a situation which financially penalises the widows or widowers of police officers.
This issue was raised with me by Eastwood resident Ken Heydon.
Ken’s wife Dianne was a police officer for 30 years and was tragically killed in a road traffic accident last year.
It is following these awful circumstances that Ken has come to realise that though he now receives her police widower’s pension, if he were to find a new partner, he would lose this income completely if they decided to marry or co-habit.
This is because Dianne was retired when she died and was not killed during service with the police.
This change in the police pension regulations applies to people living in England, Scotland and Wales, but not those in Northern Ireland.
Ken understandably feels that he is being prevented from moving on with his own life by this change.
He feels unable to even consider having a new relationship at some point because of the large financial ‘penalty’ he would incur.
Essentially, police widows and widowers in England, Scotland and Wales whose spouses did not die on duty are punished twice by this change – once from losing their loved one and again if they find new love.
The National Association for Retired Police Officers is so incensed by this the treatment of police widows and widowers that it is pursuing the case in court for three breaches of human rights legislation.
As Ken said to me, a couple plan for their retirement based on their expected pension income and a drastic change on this could have a severe impact on their future.
I will be taking up this issue with the Home Office as it is totally unfair.
The widows and widowers of police officers in the rest of Great Britain deserve the same benefits as those in Northern Ireland.