NEWS that police dogs in Cambridgeshire are to receive a force pension has been met with anger by former officers who say they are facing cuts in their own pensions. The Hunts Post has been contacted by two former officers who were forced to retire from
NEWS that police dogs in Cambridgeshire are to receive a force "pension" has been met with anger by former officers who say they are facing cuts in their own pensions.
The Hunts Post has been contacted by two former officers who were forced to retire from the Cambridgeshire force after being injured on duty.
They have both been left facing uncertain futures after Cambridgeshire police and its governing body, the Cambridgeshire Police Authority, decided to review and reduce injury awards once recipients reach state pension age.
Paul Styles was forced to retire from Cambridgeshire police in 1995 after sustaining an injury on duty. He was unable to return to work and his injury award and police pension has been the sole income for him and his wife for the last 14 years. His condition has been reviewed regularly by an independent medical practitioner, who has always maintained that Mr Styles is unable to work.
However, after turning 65 this year, Mr Styles is facing a drastically-reduced income and has been forced to sell his Devon home.
He was scathing about the force's initiative, which he read on The Hunts Post website.
He said: "It is so good to know that Chief Constable Julie Spence thinks so highly of former police dogs that she is willing to give them a pension. It's a shame she doesn't feel the same way about disabled former police officers. She is currently busy slashing their pensions by thousands of pounds a year. Some pensioners are going to lose their homes as a result."
Another former officer, who lives in St Ives and wished only to be known as Dave, was forced to retire four years ago, aged 49. He has been left with post traumatic stress disorder and a condition linked to diabetes following incidents while on duty.
He added: "I am going to be one of the many retired police officers from Cambridgeshire who are being treated worse than police dogs in retirement.
"Former officers who are approaching 65 are panicking. They don't know what the future holds for them."
Cambridgeshire Police Authority decided to start reviewing some payments to retired officers last year, following Home Office guidance that was issued in 2004.
However, a memorandum from the Police Negotiations Board - which the Home Office guidance was based on - states that reviews should only be carried out if there is a significant change in the officer's condition. Both former officers that The Hunts Post has spoken to maintain that the only reason for the reviews carried out in Cambridgeshire is age and said that just 18 out of the UK's 43 forces has decided to carry out such reviews.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police Authority said: "The police authority has worked to ensure that it has a fair and comprehensive injury award policy which is in line with the appropriate Home Office regulations and guidance.
"We understand that the implementation of the policy and the procedure has caused considerable upset and anxiety for some pensioners and we fully recognise this.
"However, we are duty bound to review those in receipt of an injury award."
A spokesman Cambridgeshire police added: "The 'pensions' retired police dogs receive do not consist of a sum of money but a few bags of food a year, their inoculations and any reasonable veterinary treatment they may require.
"We expect police dogs to live for around two years after their retirement and the funding of their retirement package does not require any additional budget.
"The general purpose dogs often defend and prevent injuries to three or four police officers at once during violent disorders, meaning those officers will not need medical treatment or time off work.