Police Federation

Retirement, transition into the unknown and why the future is bright

The retirement discussion at PFEW Annual Conference 2023 explored what lies beyond policing for those about to retire and where they can seek advice on finances and wellbeing. 

10 October 2023


In this session of Annual Conference 2023, sponsored by Metfriendly, experts provided reassurance to police officers close to, or worried about, retirement and gave insights into what the future may hold for them post policing careers.

The introduction from Sam Hawkins, secretary, treasurer and equality lead of Norfolk Police Federation, who has been in service for 33 years and is approaching retirement, set the scene for an informal discussion on what many officers come to fear – the moment they hand in their warrant card and are no longer a cop.

Sam noted: “I am excited about ‘being free’. We know the ‘P’ factor of policing. So many restrictions imposed on our personal lives due to our unique status as officers, and for the first time in over three decades these will be gone for me. No more ‘on call’, no more fearing rest day cancellation or disruption to plans made with loved ones and family.

“Whichever route you take out of the organisation, life and opportunity does not cease. We will all know officers who have been dismissed, chosen to leave, been medically retired, or retired after full service, who have all gone onto be successful in their careers and lives outside of policing. Conversely, we will all know officers who have struggled with leaving the service and transitioning into the unknown.

“So why am I anxious? We are part of a disciplined organisation; this gives structure and routine to our lives. It challenges us every day, physically and mentally, often running on adrenaline, making dynamic decisions in seconds. How do we step away from that? How do we fill that void?

“I am concerned that I have been a cop for most of my working life, can I do anything else?”

Offering up her own concerns and worries through these questions, Sam exposed what many officers on the verge of retirement may feel. Fear, trepidation, and anxiety for what the future may hold for them.

But as Rachel Roberts, Counsellor and Trauma Advisor for South Wales Police, was at pains to point out, change leads to opportunity and experiences.

“It is inevitable and really presents a chance for growth and development, so it should be embraced and welcomed. But to help prepare there is nothing wrong with discussing fears and anxieties," she said.

Another guest speaker, retired cop and former PFEW National Board member, Dave Bamber, talked candidly about his experience being recently retired and said, “I was a police officer. I did have anticipation about leaving. To give up my warrant card was a big thing. It was my identity. When we give it in, our license to practice has gone. Unlike other professions, once we retire, we are no longer identifiable as a cop. If you’re a plumber you can always be a plumber, but when we hand in our warrant card, that’s it, it’s over.”

Dave also touched on ‘the burden of the badge, the weight of the warrant card’ and how once retired these were lifted and he felt the weight was removed from his shoulders.

To offer financial advice and explain some of the options available, two guest speakers from Metfriendly, Neil Ambrose, team field manager, and Nick Walter, retired police officer and pension lead, spoke about their work, the available products and the advice their organisation can provide to those looking to understand not just about police pension, but their complete financial wellbeing.

They explained that individual counselling sessions are available within 12/18 months of retirement. Metfriendly also offers a retirement seminar that they encouraged all to join as it covers pensions, finance, legal aspects and future careers advice.

As Nick pointed out, most of those retiring from policing intend to work again outside of the job, so they understandably have a lot of questions such as:

What are my options?

What is the pensions trap?

What can I take, when?

What are the consequences? 

Neil highlighted that as we all now live longer with better health, understanding all options and when and what to do is vital and said, “There is longevity after policing.”

Dave added, “Make a plan for what you want to do, mentally and physically, It’s key to your happiness.”

At the end of the session, the discussion naturally turned to what comes after policing for those that want to work again.

The scary thought of writing a CV was also raised. Sam noted that her CV would comprise of only one employer and how it was worrying. But Rachel and Dave both pointed out that in fact the skills they have acquired mean ex-cops stand out as first-class candidates. And indeed, as Rachel went on to point out, “Write a list of the skills gained in all your years as a police officer. This is a great exercise in recognition and confidence building.”

You can find more information by visiting Events - Metfriendly.

Watch the session back below

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