With thanks to the author – you know who you are ! The members of IODPA are forever in your debt.
The Police Injury Pensioner’s Grand Day Out
A one-act play.
‘As compelling as the Mousetrap. The pensioner, played convincingly by A. Copper looks just like a lump of mouldy cheese.’
‘A surreal insight into the quasi-judiciary. Reminded me of Waiting For Godot.
‘Crocked Cop Cracks Up’
The scene is a well-lit room in a modern concrete city centre building. It is furnished sparsely, with a set of cheap tables set in an open horseshoe shape.
Sat at the table forming the base of the horseshoe, facing the door and with the sunlight streaming in from a window behind them obscuring their features, sit the Judge Jury and Executioner – all three members of the Police Medical Appeal Board.
On one set of side tables are sat various anonymous persons. All are wearing expensive business type clothing and have a self-satisfied look. They are representatives of the pensioner’s former force and Police Authority, together with a self-styled pensions expert and a smug looking selected medical practitioner.
Judge: Bring in the prisoner – I mean pensioner!
The door opens and a police injury pensioner stumbles in, blinking against the light. A warder removes the prisoner’s straight-jacket and roughly forces him to sit in a chair placed in the open end of the horseshoe, facing the Judge.
Judge: Pensioner at the bar, you have been summoned to appear before us today to give cogent reason why I should not reduce your injury pension to the lowest band of disablement. You are charged that you did wilfully, knowingly and with scant regard to the public purse, reach the advanced age of 65. How do you plead?
Pensioner: Not Guilty.
Judge: What? Am I hearing right? Were you not advised that your only option is to throw yourself on the mercy of the court after admitting your sins against the State?
Pensioner: May it please the Bench, I reserve my right to supply the court with a number of cogent reasons why I should not be reduced to penury.
The anonymous onlookers whisper amongst themselves and one of them scribbles a note and hands it to the Judge.
Judge: Were you not warned that the Home Office (blessed be its name) issued guidance in this respect and that they make mention of ‘cogent reason’ – singular – not ‘cogent reasons’ – plural?
Pensioner: Yes, your worship, I did know that but why do I have to provide a cogent reason? Surely my previous employers know that there is nothing in the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 about cogent reasons.
Judge: What they know or don’t know is not the issue. They are not on trial – you are. Shall we get on? Provide one reason only. Be quick about it. Time is money you know and that’s what this hearing is all about – your former employers saving it and you losing it.
Pensioner: With respect, your worship, I would like to have my solicitor present, and I have several persons outside who wish to address the court on my behalf.
Judge: Impossible! You can have a friend sit in the room if you insist, but he, she or it must not speak or take any part in the proceedings. We had a dog in here the other day – man’s best friend and all that, but the damned animal peed up my leg. (turns to anonymous suits) Why did we admit that creature?
The anonymous suits send another note.
Judge: I am reliably informed that dogs are allowed provided they are guide dogs. You are not blind are you, pensioner at the bar?
Pensioner: No sir, I suffer from chronic reactive depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Judge: Complete twaddle. There was no such thing in my day. We just got on with things. You are a disgrace to your uniform.
Pensioner: I was in CID.
Judge: Well, a disgrace to your cheap Marks and Spencer suit then.
Pensioner: What are your qualifications to preside at this sham of a hearing?
Judge: Listen sonny, I ask the questions, OK.
Pensioner: I only asked a perfectly reasonable question.
Judge: How dare you question the system. I’ll have you know that it was designed entirely with your welfare in mind. For the record, (turns and winks at the suits) I am a fully qualified medical practitioner and have been shown how to calculate in percentages.
Pensioner: But you are hardly independent and impartial are you? Doesn’t the Home Office pay your wages?
Judge: Listen up, you toothless old fart, it not only pays me but trains me and guides me and what is wrong with that!
Pensioner: Yes, but it does rather cast a doubt in my mind about your impartiality.
Judge: Mere semantics. The fact is, my dear little has-been, that you haven’t got a leg to stand on – just like the last chap who was in here. He’d lost the use of both of his. Ha! Ha!
Pensioner: May I produce my cogent reason now?
Judge: Get on with it. We are none of us getting any younger sat here. You, more than anyone should know that. How you have managed to survive to the amazingly advanced age of 65 is a miracle. By any standards you should be pushing up daisies by now and not continuing to be a drain on scarce police resources.
Pensioner: I protest! You are displaying bias.
Judge: Idiot! Of course I am. That is the whole purpose of this hearing. If you were not so old and decrepit you would have realised that before you demanded this hearing.
Pensioner: Your Medical Worship, I didn’t ask to be here. I was injured due to no fault of my own, thrown out of the job I loved, and expected to be left in peace to pick up the threads of my shattered life whilst battling with a debilitating and disabling illness without the benefit of support from my ex-employers. Anyway, they commanded that I attend, under threat of reducing my pension to zero if I was unable or unwilling to stand here and be your patsy.
Judge: Are you from Devon or Cornwall?
The prisoner looks puzzled.
Prisoner: No, I’m from Yorkshire.
Judge: Well, why are you talking about pasties then? What has a convenient snack formerly used by tin miners got to do with these proceedings?
Pensioner: Patsy – I said patsy, meaning an innocent dupe, a sacrificial goat, a con-man’s mark.
Judge: Exactly so!
Pensioner: May I enquire if the court can offer me any guidance regarding what cogent reason would find favour?
Judge: You really are at an advanced state of decay aren’t you? If you had a few functioning brain cells remaining in that wrinkled and disgustingly bald head of yours you would understand that is for me to know and for you to guess.
Pensioner: Could you perhaps give me a clue?
Judge: Well, I am a reasonable man – provided the reasons are mine – so let me just say this: I will know a cogent reason when I see one. Please remember that these proceedings have been set up so as to provide a fairer and more cohesive approach to the management of police injury pensions. With that in mind, I feel it only fair to warn you I have not heard anyone air a cogent reason yet – and I intend to make damned sure that I never do!
Pensioner: But –
Judge: Silence! You have tried the patience of this court far enough. You should realise that it is the purpose of this court to try the patient. Ha! Ha!
Prisoner: May I present my cogent reason now?
Judge: (feigning a yawn). Well – if you insist, but you are wasting your time, you wrinkled old prune.
The pensioner stands and begins to deliver an impassioned and carefully constructed plea, but it is obvious that the Judge isn’t listening. He has plugged in the earphones of his iPod and the tinny strains of Abba singing ‘Money, Money, Money’ can be heard faintly throughout the court. The pensioner sits down.
Judge: Finished? Right then. After due deliberation, taking due cognisance of all irrelevant aspects such as apportionment, revisiting the final decision of the SMP and paying particular attention to Home Office (blessed be its name) guidance whilst totally misreading the Regulations, this court finds that the pensioner before the bar is guilty as charged. Warder, please confiscate his wallet and hand the contents to the honourable persons to my left. Leave him his old age pensioner’s bus pass so he can get back to the old people’s home.
The Judge bangs his gavel and all present, except the pensioner, decamp to the fine dining establishment conveniently situated next door for a well-earned lunch on expenses.