Pension fears for retired railway police officers

Police fear losing access to a pension fund with �12bn in reserves.
Police fear losing access to a pension fund with �12bn in reserves.
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Retired railway police officers have expressed dismay at plans to use their pension pots to begin a new fund as part of a controversial merger.

The Scottish Government is pressing ahead with moves to integrate the British Transport Police (BTP) into Police Scotland from April next year, despite concerns from staff associations, trade unions and the railway industry.

The National Association of Retired British Transport Police Officers (NARBTPO) said it had been told of plans to create a new pension fund for about 200 serving officers and 200 retired officers using the pensioners’ savings.

At present, the retired officers belong to a UK-wide fund with about 6,000 members and assets of more than £1 billion.

Jim McKelvie, Scottish representative for NARBTPO, said the association would encourage members to resist creation of the new fund.

He said: “There is absolutely no reason for a separate fund. When the railway was privatised in 1992, there were lots of examples of people who have gone into private railway companies but have stayed in the existing railway pension schemes.

“They’re going to take us out of a fund with about 6,000 people in it and create a fund for about 400 which is probably not sustainable.”

He added: “Our fund has a reserve of £2bn and the overall railway pension has a reserve of £12bn. If you take us into a separate fund, we’re not going to have that protection any more.”

Last week Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee that there were “significant issues” relating to the terms and conditions of BTP officers that would not be resolved before the merger.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have given a triple-lock guarantee to secure the jobs, pay and pensions of railway policing officers and staff in Scotland and, together with Police Scotland, we met with the BTP Federation in mid-December for three days to discuss terms and conditions of service and this important work will continue.”

He said integrating railway policing into Police Scotland would provide an enhanced service.