The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has launched a new recruitment campaign aimed at retirees, with the goal of strengthening the police force and enhancing public safety.
The QPS will establish a pool of special constables as a relief workforce to support frontline officers when needed.
The proposed amendments to the Police Service Administration Act 1990 will expand the concept of special constable to offer employment opportunities to experienced former officers on a casual basis.
This will allow suitable retirees to be re-engaged as special constables after retiring at age 60.
The addition of special constables is expected to enhance the QPS’ policing capacity, especially during high-demand periods, guaranteeing the presence of police officers on the frontlines when required to meet service delivery needs.
According to Commissioner Katarina Carroll, the concept has the potential to greatly enhance the QPS’ surge capacity for resourcing.
Carroll anticipates that over 850 officers will retire by 2026, with 178 leaving in the next year, including 62 frontline officers.
“We know there are a lot of healthy and highly trained police officers with years’ of experience who leave the Service for a variety of reasons and would be interested in returning on an ad-hoc basis,” Carroll said.
“Opening up opportunities for former police officers could unlock huge benefits for the Service, particularly when it comes to filling temporary resourcing gaps.
“We could see officers return to perform various frontline duties when required such as during natural disasters or major events including the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Other industries and government agencies manage relief or substitute workforces very well and I believe this concept can be extended to our police.
“Our goal would be to attract healthy and committed former officers who could undergo the necessary assessments and re-training to be sworn in as special constables to carry out a range of policing duties when required.”
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the initiative “is a win-win which boosts our police frontline at times when it is needed most”.
New ‘special constables’ will provide invaluable frontline support to our service – establishing a pool of ‘relief’ or ‘substitute’ police officers, similar to what exists in the nursing and teaching industries, to boost frontline support.https://t.co/6QF08M66FX pic.twitter.com/IFzkDn4HSN
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) April 20, 2023
Although many may wish to continue working, the QPS currently enforces a mandatory retirement age of 60.
One such officer is Detective Inspector Rouse who told the ABC that the current system forces a lot of talent “out the door”.
“I think every single year we as an organisation, we’re in many cases pushing a lot of experience out the door unnecessarily, there’s lots of people who can quite capably continue working past 60 up to 65,” he said.
“I think most law enforcement officers would welcome the opportunity to continue serving the community, which is a good thing.”
The push from QPS to encourage retirees to join their ranks comes after the Federal Government introduced changes in 2022 that allowed those receiving the age pension to work more hours without facing financial penalties to their payments.
After legislation passed the House of Representatives, age and veteran pensioners are now able to earn an additional $4000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension.
Previously pensioners could only earn $7800 a year before their payments were affected.
At the time, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said it’s important that pensioners have the option to work if they wish to without facing financial penalties.
“We’ve listened and we’re now seeking to extend the measure for twelve-months to ensure people have time to use it,” Rishworth said.
“Our measure provides certainty – pensioners know exactly what they are getting up front and how much they can earn.
“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to improving the lives of all Australians – including older Australians – and importantly providing choice.”