Today The Record reports the case of John Geates, Director of the Scottish Police College, under the title of “Top cop retires and pockets £300k lump sum but is back at desk the next day”. Mr Geates post was civilianised at just the right time for him, it appears, but there is controversy over whether anyone else got a shot at the job.
While the case is different, it still shows what may be ahead for Top Cops who wish to return as Police and Crime Commissioners, as well as other candidates drawing a pension from another part of the public purse.
Some will see no issue here:- the officers have made an investment over the years and are now getting a return. Others will wonder how it is fair for someone to have a lifetime of police service rewarded once through the pension system, and then again as a police commissioner, or for someone to draw a public pension, when they are evidently not retired but also drawing a public salary.
The psychology is also interesting. Imagine you have completed 30 years in the police service and could take a pension of 2/3 your salary immediately, or some combination of a tax-free commutation and a smaller annual pension. If you continue, you are effectively working for a third of your salary, or for a third less the difference in deductions. But you could show a sudden interest in politics, together with a previously unseen fervent devotion for the party most likely to win in your area and, kerching :-
Full police pension + Police and Crime Commissioner Salary = Nice little earner. Calculate the value of police pensions here.
Then again, if a retired police officer takes a private sector wage as a pension top-up, no-one bothers. Do we want to risk putting experienced people off from running for these posts?
What do you think? Should police pensioner candidates be asked whether they will be full-time Commissioners on part-time pay? What about politicians with a parliamentary pension?
It’s clearly better to have a candidate that actually knows something about Policing – that may mean a retired cop. Pension abatement should apply equally to all candidates – if it did then this would be a non issue.