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PCC seeks justice for police widows

Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach has spoken out in the House of Lords to highlight the 'blatantly unjust' police pensions ruling that means officers' widows lose their pension payments if they re-marry or co-habit with a new partner.

And Lord Bach says the fact that the widows of Leicestershire PCs Andrew Munn and Bryan Moore are being treated differently even though their husbands were killed as the result of the same crime on the same day in 2002 simply accentuates the unfairness of the 1987 pension rules.

Both widows initially received their pension but PC Munn's widow, Allison, re-married in 2009 and consequently lost her pension. Changes to the rules last year meant that any widow, widower or civil partner in receipt of a so-called widow's pension due to their partner dying in the line of duty would, from 1 April 2015, be treated as if the officer had opted for a 'life-time widow's pension'.

This ruling that meant PC Moore's widow, Sarah, retained her pension when she re-married after that date. But Allison, now Charlton, did not benefit, however, and Leicestershire Police Federation secretary Matt Robinson brought this unfair situation to the attention of the PCC.

Matt explains: "I have supported this campaign wholeheartedly as it is just simply wrong that Allison should lose her pension for a life choice of being happy with her new partner. I remember the tragic circumstances of the day Andy and Bryan were killed and they bring a unique angle to this issue.

"This injustice should be put right and a small change which is actually cost-neutral would make a massive difference to Allison and people in the same position."

As the PCC explains: "In effect, this latest change to the regulations puts a hideous price on happiness, treating so very differently two widows who have both had to face the loss of their husbands in the same horrific incident."

He adds: "It imposes unfair financial hardship on some bereaved wives, husbands and partners who have experienced terrible, unimaginable loss. The changes in pension rules have had seismic consequences for some people and their families."

Lord Bach is supporting a campaign to retrospectively reinstate pensions to those whose police officer partner died in the line of duty and who lost their pension as a result of re-marriage or co-habitation, regardless of when that was.

As part of this support, in the House of Lords on Tuesday he asked the Government for its policy with regard to the pension rights of spouses and civil partners of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

It is, he argues… "a travesty that one widow should lose her pension and the other not. Why should anyone be penalised if they get married again? This is a bad decision that puts a heavy price on the right to move on with your life, including happiness and remarriage. This is especially unfair when there has already been so much distress for spouses and children left behind."

Lord Bach points out: "We should all remember the risks facing our police officers every day. They put their lives on the line to protect our safety. This, surely, puts an onus on us to ensure that their loved ones are - without question or quibble - financially cared for if the worst happens."

The judge who presided over the court case into the killing of PC Munn and PC Moore had said of the officers: "They unhesitatingly attempted to make a decision which could have prevented injury or death to other members of the public. It is upon such devoted service that the public, often unwittingly, relies. The greatest tragedy is that such service cost them their lives."

When PC Munn was killed he left Allison and their two young children aged nine and three. PC Moore was also a family man, leaving his wife Sarah and their three children aged 13, 11 and ten.

  • Matt Robinson accompanied Lord Bach in London on Tuesday and both he and the PCC were interviewed by the media about the campaign.