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Taxpayer 'cannot afford' officers' high pensions

Police officer pensions have become an unaffordable drain on police budgets, a report today claims.

With rising life expectancy and a low retirement age, the cost of pensions has leapt from less than £1bn a year in 1995-96 to almost £2.5bn in 2009-10 – the equivalent to £1 in every £7 of total police expenditure – according to the analysis by Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank.

It calculated that the taxpayer was footing £1.9bn of the bill, which would pay for another 17,500 officers.

The report – which said the police enjoyed the most generous pension schemes in the public sector apart from the judiciary – was published as the Home Office prepares to make changes to the police schemes.