Page 10 - Police Magazine - April 2017
P. 10

ADVERTORIAL                         n NEWS
       Police pensions

       on divorce

       Police pensions are often the most   Bail overhaul under the Policing and Crime Act
       valuable asset on divorce and yet, due
       to their complexity, a great deal of
       confusion surrounds them.            will mean ‘massive change in custody culture’
        Following a separation it’s important
       to get professional advice about the
       financial arrangements surrounding   The full impact of the new Policing
       your pension, as there are a range of   and Crime Act is likely to be felt
       options available to the court.      the most by custody sergeants
        In complicated divorce cases it is not   and investigators when it comes   Picture: Mark Harvey / Alamy
       uncommon for the court to seek advice   into effect this month (April).
       from a pension actuary who provides a   Pre-charge bail will be capped
       report about the different pension needs   at 28 days in the biggest overhaul
       and options. The report’s conclusions   of bail arrangements in the
       may prove critical in informing the court,   entire history of PACE.
       so it’s important to have a confident   The Police Federation of England and
       lawyer from the outset, who can ensure   Wales (PFEW) and its advisors have been
       the correct questions are asked and   in dogged negotiations with the Home
       challenge any conclusions to protect   Office for more than 18 months over
       your interests.                      the bail reforms as well as the other
        There are many myths surrounding the   changes enshrined in the new law.
       division of pension assets upon divorce   But although it has managed to
       or dissolution. For example, the recipient   influence some of the outcomes,
       of a Pension Sharing Order in relation   arguments over the pre-charge bail
       to a police pension does not receive an   reforms have largely fallen on deaf ears.
       immediate lump sum equivalent to the   Further discussions are still ongoing
       “share” and will have to wait until their   as other elements of the Act won’t
       60th birthday to realise any benefits.    be introduced until a later date.
       Further, if the person having their   The reforms have been brought
       pension deducted has already retired,   in after existing provisions were   and be a considerable challenge.”
       they will experience an immediate    criticised for keeping suspects on bail   The 28-day time limit is “unrealistic” for
       deduction in any income they already   indefinitely, waiting to hear whether   complex investigations, added Mr Ward.
       receive, even if the recipient might not   or not they would be charged. The   “Cybercrime, for example, requires
       receive theirs for a number of years,   Home Office released documents   computers to be seized and equipment
       because they are not yet 60 years old.   showing that up to 4,000 people each   to be interrogated to gain evidence.
        When deciding how to deal with your                                     The results for detailed forensic tests
       pension and other matrimonial assets,   year have to wait on bail for 12 months   also take some time to come back.”
                                            or more for a charging decision.
       the Family Court will consider a number   The authority of an inspector or above
       of criteria and a Pension Sharing Order   will now be required to grant pre-
       may not be the best outcome based on                                     Poor morale
       the length of your marriage, the value   charge bail up to 28 days – with further   The measures will come at a time
       of your pension, your length of service   extensions requiring higher levels of   when poor morale, staff shortages
       and the value of the other matrimonial   authority for exceptional circumstances.  and high levels of stress and sickness
       assets. For example, if a marriage is                                    absence have become an increasing
       short, a court might award a smaller   ‘Paper tiger’                     problem for the custody world.
       lump sum  to “offset” any interest in   But the measures have already been   Fluctuating shift patterns, lack
       pension funds generated during the   dubbed a ‘paper tiger’ by a leading   of vital equipment and training
       marriage. No two situations are the   law firm, which says that in reality   gaps have also been identified by
       same and you should have a lawyer who   an already overstretched police   the PFEW’s Custody Forum.
       understands these complexities and   service will encounter additional     The new Act – which received
       how the different circumstances might   administrative burdens and paperwork.  Royal Assent on 31 January – will
       affect the outcome.                   PFEW Custody Lead Andy Ward said:   start taking effect from April with
                                            “Release without bail will be the default   different provisions being rolled out
                          Amanda McAlister   position – unless bail is necessary and   at intervals. The reforms include:
                         Head of Family law,   proportionate. But one problem is     l  placing a new duty on police,
                          Slater and Gordon  that the Home Office does not spell    fire and rescue, and emergency
                            T: 0808 175 7710  out what is ‘proportionate’. It will be   ambulance services to collaborate
                                            a massive change in custody culture     (but only in England, not Wales)

       10  POLICE  April / May 2017
   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15