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Police widows’ pension campaigner “hopeful” about review

Kate Hall has been campaigning since 2014 following the death of her husband in 1987.

The 1987 Police Pension Regulations meant that police widows who remarry or cohabit would no longer receive their partners’ pensions.  

In 2006, the New Police Pension Scheme was introduced and removed the exemption that had been present under the 1987 scheme - adult survivor awards would be payable for life - irrespective of future marriages or partnerships. 

However, it did not reinstate pensions for those who had already lost partners - on or off duty. 

In 2016, an amendment was made to the 1987 scheme which enabled those who had already lost partners to receive the reinstated pensions - only however if they were to remarry or cohabit after April 1 2015. Kate Hall has told Police Oracle that this amendment came about as a direct result of her campaign. 

However, the changes were further only limited to those whose partners died on duty, travelling to or from duty, as a result of an injury on duty, or died as a result of being recognised as an officer. 

It means there is still a gap for those who had remarried prior to 2015. 

Kate Hall’s campaign has gained traction during the eight years it has been running. In August 2020, NARPO and the Police Federation lodged papers in the High Court in Manchester- challenging regulation C9 of the 1987 regulations on the basis that it contravenes Human Rights. 

She told Police Oracle there are currently 22,000 widows still affected by the 1987 regulations. 

Two years later, this August, the Judge did not rule in the campaigners' favour, although he did give certain positive comments about the case - and granted them permission to appeal. 

In the approved judgement Mr Justice Forham said: “Regulation C9 is a Cessation provision which was introduced with a rationale which, as the Home Secretary’s own evidence has had to accept, is historic and socially outdated. 

“Regulation C9 continues to bite, and is intended to bite for decades to come, despite being underpinned by an obsolete social rationale.

“The impact and implications of Regulation C9 are serious and significant for recipients of SPBs, as well as for their children. Viewed in terms of Deprivation and the threat of Deprivation, the survivor of a deceased Scheme Member stands to lose more than £1,000 per month, every month, for the rest of their lives.” 

He concluded nonetheless that he was unable to accept C9 “lacks objective justification by reference to any of the Convention rights relied on”. 

He did however grant permission to for the Claimants to appeal- saying that it would not be unrealistic that the Court of Appeal may find his conclusions are wrong. 

NARPO has since received notice that the Appeal has been listed in the Royal Courts of Justice at the end of November. 

Kate Hall told Police Oracle: “It’s very unusual for Judges to allow an appeal for the Judicial Review - so I think we can at least be hopeful because the Judge wouldn’t waste the court’s time if it wasn’t possible. 

“It was an absolutely devastating result from the Judicial Review [...] if you read the judgement, he’s giving hope on the one hand, and then in the next paragraph he seems to snatch it away. 

“This sort of pension that has the same rules is widespread through the public service sector. 

“[If changes were made here] it would have a knock on effect across pension schemes."

The 1975 Armed Forces pension scheme was changed in 2015 - removing the same exemption of the suspension of pension payments if a partner re-marries or cohabits with a new partner. 

The change did not, however, encompass those whose spouse left between 1973 and 2005 and who had already surrendered their pension via remarriage or cohabitation. 

Kate Hall said the justification given by the Policing Minister at the time was that the risks faced by the armed forces were unique - their families were detrimentally affected by moving as a result of their spouses' jobs.

“Looking at the evidence I’d collected - I thought, we’ve got the evidence to dispute this - officers face risk on a daily basis - families also move at short notice, give up their old jobs- don’t have a chance to build their own pension,” she said. 

“I put the petition online in 2014 - we are up to 141,000 signatures now. Back in the day I started getting letters and emails from from other people affected by this and they didn’t realise there were other widows out there like them. 

“I realised I had got the biggest collection of evidence demonstrating the misery this regulation has caused.” 

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