Belfast Telegraph

£20m fund for ex-part-time officers

Thousands of former part-time police officers in Northern Ireland are to benefit from a £20 million fund, it has been confirmed.

Unionists had lobbied for the gratuity scheme to cover part-time reserve officers who missed out on severance deals paid when police numbers were reduced as part of political reforms in Northern Ireland.

Justice Minister David Ford confirmed ring-fenced funding had been provided by the Treasury to fund the new scheme.

A deal to compensate former part-time reservists, who missed out on payments that flowed from the moves to transform the Royal Ulster Constabulary into the new Police Service of Northern Ireland, was negotiated between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Labour government.

Gordon Brown first offered the deal to DUP leader Peter Robinson in a letter sent to Stormont last October.

But the offer became public because the letter was copied to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness who shares the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister with Mr Robinson.

The gratuity scheme formed part of the final deal that saw the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont earlier this year.

Mr Ford published details of the scheme, and said: "In October 2009 the Prime Minister wrote to the First Minister advising that in the event of devolution HM Government will provide ring-fenced funding of £20 million for the establishment of a scheme to make payment of a gratuity to members of the Part-Time Reserve.

"Upon devolution the terms of that scheme were passed to me as Minister of Justice to administer.

"Gratuity payments are to be made in recognition of the particular circumstances of those who volunteered to serve in the Police Part-Time Reserve, making themselves vulnerable within the community for the safety of others, with the accompanying risks and the demonstration of civic spirit which that volunteering exhibited."

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