God … [ Scoffield ] … has written His divine guidelines for your life right in the Bible … [ Report to the Northern Ireland Police Board ] … ”
― Elizabeth George (misquoted)
In the course of development of this further guidance, serious consideration should be given to abandoning the currently recommended method of calculating percentage disablement, including detailed reliance on the ASHE survey and comparison with the officer’s notional uninjured police salary, in favour of a much more basic approach, whereby the relevant medical authority would simply make a judgment in the round as to the severity of the impact of the duty injury on the officer’s earning capacity, so as to select the officer’s appropriate band without the need to calculate a specific percentage disablement figure.
The guidance should also provide SMPs and IMRs1 with more detailed assistance, in as straightforward language as possible and drawing upon recent case-law, on how to avoid impermissibly revisiting matters finally determined in previous certificates and applying the concept of apportionment.
There should be a move away from automatic review for all cases at any fixed interval set in policy. The judgment as to when a review is appropriate should be made on a more case-sensitive basis, driven particularly by medical advice on this issue from the SMP and/or IMR (although it ought to remain open to an officer to request a review himself at any time and the Board should also retain the right to initiate a review at any time if information comes to its attention identifying an apparent relevant change in circumstances). SMPs and IMRs should expressly be asked to provide the Board with advice on this issue in their completion of reports.
Those officers who were told in clear terms that they would not be subject to review, or words to that effect, should not be further reviewed in the absence of a request from them or some compelling reason why a review is considered appropriate (such a reason not to include merely their attainment of a particular age).
SMPs and IMRs should not be precluded in future from designating a case as one for no further review but this should occur only very rarely and guidance should be formulated for them as to when this may be appropriate.
1 IMR = Independent Medical Referee PSNI equivalent to a Police Medical Appeals Board (PMAB)