Injury on Duty Awards used to come out of central government funds but that changed in the early ‘noughties and the awards became payable out of the individual force’s budget. But the Home Office threw a sop to the forces – now obligated to pay for their decisions they made to retire former officers. Their redress was new Home Office Guidance – Home Office Circular (HOC) 46/2004
The problem is that although the Regulations are unchanged, many Police Authorities ( probably slightly less than half of the authorities in England and Wales) changed their policy following the issue of the guidance in HOC 46/2004 and introduced reviews triggered when the retired officer reaches the ages of 60 and 65. Although this guidance and policies based on it have been declared unlawful and withdrawn, forces are still attempting to find ways to reduce IOD bands in order to make budget savings. Existing injury pensions which may or may not have been subject to review previously were now reviewed under the new guidance which, in some forces was pursued aggressively.
HOC 46/2004 was unlawful and challenged – not directly at first – there was a blow-back and the new aggressive stance by Police Pension Authorities was used on other former officers, of all ages, in receipt of IOD awards. Turner V PMAB and Laws V PMAB were case-law decided as a direct result of 46/2004 even though neither of the appellants were 65 years old. This circular corrupted the administration of ALL IOD awards and the whole thing came down to ways the police pension authority can save money. Lets not forget who had to challenge the unlawful guidance – incapacitated and disabled former police officers.
Turner and Laws were successful on points of law. After that the guidance itself contained within HOC 46/2004 was challenged both by judicial review (Crudace, Simpson etc) and by the pension ombudsman (Ayers, Sharp etc) and the guidance was declared unlawful in 2013 in the consent order Slater V PMAB and officially withdrawn.
But the Rubicon had been crossed and the police pension authorities had tasted blood. In the days of austerity how better for a high-flying Chief Finance Officer (CFO) to mark their career by making instant savings into their budget. If they can save ££££ then their CV and LinkedIn would be flowered up and then a new role with an inflated 6 figure salary plus bonus will be within their grasp. Like a plague of locusts, using the budget reduction as evidence, the CFOs think they can move onto a new force to decimate and corrupt the administration of IOD awards there as well.
Did the Home Office and police pension authorities accept they were wrong? No. The guidance was withdrawn and the Home Office and those forces that pursued 46/2004 maliciously had their fingers burnt. Out of the ashes the National Attendance Management Forum (NAMF) was born. A coven of HR and finance managers who meetup at Tally Ho! Conference Centre Birmingham. The cynically minded might view this organisation as an attempt to further undermine the regulations with an attempt to keep keeping the sphere of influence separate so the Home Office doesn’t get the blame.
There will be further posts all about NAMF.