HL Deb 09 November 1999 vol 606 cc141-2WA
Lord Eames

asked. Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that the current levels of compensation and financial support for widows and families of members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary killed or injured as a result of terrorist action are adequate or just. [HL4435]

Lord Dubs

Police officers and their families are eligible for compensation under the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme on the same basis as any individual who has been the victim of a violent offence. The recent report to the Government following the Review of Criminal Injuries Compensation acknowledges that, overall, the scheme may well be one of the most generous and comprehensive available in any country, including in the comparison other countries with experience of terrorism.

However, in exchanges with victims from a police background, the review also learnt that progressive improvements over time in police pension and welfare arrangements have greatly reduced the extent to which these individuals and their families had to rely on criminal injuries compensation as a principal means of support.

In addition to the normal entitlements of the RUC Pensions Regulations, police officers injured through violent crime as a direct result of membership of the RUC may receive an injury pension based on the degree of disablement. Spouses of police officers killed under similar circumstances also receive special pension payments under the current regulations. A number of police welfare organisations provide support and help to injured officers and bereaved families through grants and other areas of assistance.

The report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland recommends that a further substantial fund should be set up to help injured police officers, injured retired officers and their families, as well as police widows. In addition, the report recommends help and funding to the Widows Association to run their organisation.

A Government response to that report, and the report of the Review of Criminal Injuries Compensation, will be made as soon as possible after the end of the respective consultation periods.