The Police Service of Northern Ireland has the same worded Injury Benefit Regulations as England and Wales. The statute has a different name ( POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND AND POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND RESERVE (INJURY BENEFIT) REGULATIONS 2006) but the content is identical to the mainland’s PIBR 2006. Given the fact that serving PSNI police officers face a high number of incidents of public disorder along with the unique policing challenges of Northern Ireland it is not surprising that the province has a high proportion of Injury on duty awards. The system of injury duty applications and reviews however were in chaos. Largely due to the Police Board’s insistence on invoking Home Officer Circular 46/2004 but also with the number of applications compounded by the frequency those retired were called back for reviews. The whole system was broken and the consequences of recent case-law (Simpson et al) finding that the guidance it has imposed on it’s former officers was unlawful, was the proverbial straw . Something had to be done. David Scoffield QC was asked to write an independent report on the administrative process concerning IOD awards:
Following a number of concerns raised by former officers and various representative groups a decision was taken by the Board in March 2013 to suspend the review of IOD awards. A working group chaired by the Board’s Chief Executive and comprising of various stakeholders was also established.
In July 2013 the Board agreed to engage Senior Counsel to review the Board’s existing administrative process within the current statutory and policy framework. Mr David Scoffield QC was appointed to carry out the review. Terms of reference for the review were provided to Mr Scoffield QC.
The broken processes in PSNI are no different to what is happening in England and Wales other than the same issue has reached critical mass sooner given the higher number of IOD awards. The Senior Council review has the same relevance on both sides of the Irish sea.
There was some attempt by the establishment to not publicly disclose the fully published report. Pressure from interested parties managed to overturn this and here it is:
Over the next few weeks we will be discussing the points raised by the Scoffield report in more detail.