Home Secretary Theresa May announced on Monday that the widows of police officers who died in the line of duty will no longer lose their pensions if they re-marry or choose to co-habit.
But those who have already re-married or moved in with a partner will not have them reinstated.
The news comes after months of campaigning by a group of police widows led by Kate Hall, whose husband Colin, a West Midlands Police dog handler, died on duty in 1987, and the announcement came on the day the campaigners visited Downing Street to hand over a volume made up of comments from their supporters.
Kate, despite being pleased for those who will benefit from the announcement, has vowed to continue with her campaign so that widows in England and Wales will be treated the same as those in Northern Ireland where life-long pensions are now paid to all police widows covered by the 1988 scheme there.
“Although we truly welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement, we now have an uphill struggle to remind people that we have still not been granted parity and equal treatment with Northern Ireland,” Kate explains.
“While the exact timing of the announcement wasn’t known to us, it wasn’t exactly surprising and we did know that the changes announced were in the pipeline.
“I fully understand why the Government would seize upon this opportunity to make the announcement to coincide with our visit to Downing Street, and indeed just one week after the tragic death of PC David Phillips, but it is important for people to understand that this was no spur of the moment decision on the part of the Government.
“This development follows many months of hard work on the part of our team of campaigners ably assisted by the Police Federation of England and Wales.”
Parity with Northern Ireland would mean life-long pensions for all widows irrespective of the timing or circumstances of the officer’s death.
The officer could have died on duty, been killed on duty, died of illness during service or died post retirement.
In Northern Ireland, widows who have had their pensions revoked due to re-marriage or moving in with a partner are to have them reinstated – retrospective re-instatement of pensions in England and Wales was not included in the Home Secretary’s announcement on Monday.
Last week, it was announced that Scotland is to make similar changes to its police widows’ pension regulations, going one step further than England and Wales to reinstate the pensions of widows who have re-married or moved in with a partner, but this only applies only to those whose husbands were killed on duty.
A petition calling for pensions for life started by Kate last year has now reached the 113,255 mark with a sudden surge of signatures last week taking it from the 75,000 mark where it had almost stalled for a few weeks.
Campaigners will continue to fight in England, Wales and Scotland for parity with Northern Ireland.
The 100,000 signatures achieved could potentially trigger a debate in Parliament on the issue.
To sign the petition click here.