The government was considering how police officers could be encouraged to delay their retirement as part of its plans to boost police numbers, home officer minister Lord Rooker told peers.
The introduction of financial incentives for officers to delay retirement was a possibility that would be discussed as part of the police reform process.
Labour's Lord Janner said it was 'a grotesque anomaly' that most police officers who stay on after 30 years' service earned scarcely more than those who retired. 'Surely at a time when there is a grave shortage of police officers in most parts of the country, it is ludicrous to provide incentives to people to retire early.
Lord Rooker said: 'In this country there are three million economically inactive people between the age of 50 and retirement. It is a wasted resource, and in many ways a combination of the complexities of benefit and tax systems has caused disincentives ...
'People should be able to retire early if they want to but there should not be compulsory retirement where people are forced out of employment'.
The minister said during the past three years, wastage in the police service had been only 4.7%, 4.7% and 4.8%. That compared with the Institute of Personnel and Development survey last year of all employees of 18%.
In wastage terms the police service had a good record. On the other hand, 3,929 officers from all ranks retired from English and Welsh forces in 1999-2000. Of those, 69% retired normally and 31% retired for medical reasons. Five years previously 46% retired for medical reasons.
Lord Rooker said he believed the problem of medical retirements was being tackled.
Hansard 12 July: Column 1173