The Ministry of Defence (MoD) report, which looked at the impact on MoD Police (MDP) officers of having to work to the state retirement age of at least 68, said it had made the “best assessment” based on the available data.
But the staff association representing officers from the force has commissioned its own piece of research. It hopes the study will produce data to back up its concerns that a career of carrying heavy firearms and equipment every day means that new officers cannot be expected to serve and remain effective for so long.
The Defence Police Federation (DPF) has opposed making its members work to the state retirement age, which is currently 68 but is expected to rise, from 2015. Currently officers can retire and take their pension at 60.
DPF Chairman Eamon Keating said its research would look at how the role of MDP officer had changed over time, claiming that the training had become more intense and officers were required to don heavier kit.
He said officers in the 1980s wore tunics and carried only handcuffs and a baton while officers today wear ballistic body armour and carry ammunition and firearms. The MoD report had not taken account of this, he added.
Most of the heavier equipment was introduced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mr Keating said: “Our current members who are in their 60s (which the MoD report looked at) may have only been carrying heavy equipment for five to six years.
“Will people joining at 18 want to work 50 years carrying four stone of equipment every work day of their career? They are not going to make it.”
The MoD report reviewed how many MDP officers retired on ill health grounds in recent years, broken down by age band, and concluded they were most likely to go when aged between 55 and 59.
“MDP officers are required to carry weights of personal equipment, which might have expected to lead to an increase in muscle and bone-related conditions, but this is not the case,” it concluded.
It noted the age group most likely to suffer such conditions was 25 to 34.
Mr Keating said he hoped the DPF’s research was ready within a month to present to the MoD. He added: “I hope to meet the minister to explain what our concerns are.”
The pension changes will apply to all MDP officers who were younger than 46 in April 2013.