Police widows renew bid to get better pensions rights
25 October 2016
A delegation of police widows will this week make a fresh attempt to lobby MPs into securing better pension rights.
More than 30 widows and widowers from across the UK will make the trip to the House of Commons on Wednesday (26 Oct), accompanied by representatives from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) and the National Association of Retired Police officers (NARPO.)
They are led by Cathryn (Kate) Hall who was just 24 when her husband Colin, a 40-year-old dog handler with West Midlands Police, collapsed and died of a heart attack on duty after being called to a disturbance at a block of flats in 1997. Their daughter Kelly was just four at the time.
Kate has been campaigning for a change in legislation to allow widows and widowers whose lives have been blighted by 1987 Police Pension Regulations to remarry or cohabit without losing their pension rights.
Now she has written an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May in which she says: “You clearly have a loving marriage, Mrs May - please do not deny this privilege to the widows of those officers who served their communities so well. You cannot make history as the first woman Prime Minister of this great nation of ours but you can be the first to grant life-long pensions to ALL police widows.”
After Colin’s death, Kate met her new partner John in 1994 when she enrolled on a college course to improve her prospects to support herself and her daughter. In 2001, they decided to live together as a couple, resulting in the loss of Kate’s police pension.
Alex Duncan, PFEW lead on police widows’ pensions, said: “This is an issue which causes much misery and hardship for many families left behind when a police officer dies on duty. The current legislation is a double punishment for many widows and widowers, forcing them to choose between a lifetime of love and newfound happiness or a future of financial hardship. That is morally wrong, grossly unfair and this needs to be put right.”
You can read the rest of Kate’s letter to Mrs May here
She has also set up a petition calling for a change in the law, which has reached over 115,000 signatures
• The group wants parity with the RUC widows in Northern Ireland – lifelong pensions for all police widows.
• They have already managed to secure pensions for widows, widowers and civil partners of officers whose husbands were killed on duty, providing they had remained unmarried or were not co-habiting with a partner by 1st April 2015. The changes also apply to the survivors of firefighters killed on duty.
• But they say the changes do not go far enough and believe lifelong pensions should apply to everybody.