Home office minister Kate Hoey told MPs yesterday that the use of early medical retirement by police officers to avoid disciplinary action caused great concern to both public and police.
She refused to be drawn on last week's retirement of the remaining senior officer involved in the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry - which was a normal, not medical retirement - but she said: 'It is
clear that the public will not accept police officers who face disciplinary proceedings being able to avoid normal procedures, and we shall ensure that anything that can be done is done.
She told Garth R. Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West, that in 1997-98, Derbyshire constabulary had the highest rate of ill-health retirements among police forces in England and Wales, at 65% of all
retirements. Surrey Police had the lowest rate at 14% of all retirements.
There had been some improvment. The early retirement rate as a result of sickness had fallen on Merseyside from 77% to 54%; in North Yorkshire from 76% to 49%; and in Cleveland from 58% to 32%.
'However, police authorities, chief constables and the public know that that is still not good enough. More has to be done to ensure that fewer police officers retire early', said Miss Hoey.