It wasn’t meant to be like this.
An award for life in compensation for an injury sustained has become a ruination of a thing. Those who are in receipt of injury pensions are drained of life and hope, having suffered the double blow of being injured and then being further assaulted by the tribulations imposed on them by the abuses of management and the warped cogs of Human Resources churning out their unfeeling, rusty, circular machinations.
The Facebook page of IODPA has numerous stories from those with an IOD award of despair, loss of hope, rejection from the norms of society, isolation, legitimate paranoia – alienation from life just because of the misfortune of an event that could have happened to anyone. If that was not enough suffering, they are then treated as persona non grata by certain functionaries within the force who, bearing an unfathomable but odious grudge, have amply displayed their reluctance to properly administer injury pensions.
Sometimes this torture is drawn out for years only for the same apparatchiks – those concerned with warped procedural incorrectness at the expense of people’s needs – to re-enter and further damage the lives of people who have been trying to desperately rebuild their world.
This hasn’t just happened overnight. The subversion has been deliberate but avoidable and it is shameful that The College of Policing recognises the extent of the damage but ignores the question of why it has been allowed to happen. Its recent report into Injury on Duty process treats the extent of damage as just ‘one of those things’. That it has happened, is, according to the College, perhaps a matter of some mild regret, but the situation is otherwise unremarkable and was apparently unavoidable. The hindsight of the college has ignored that truth that senior personnel have set in motion the sequence of events with deliberation. This state of affairs is truly the fruit of their labour.
Reading between the lines of the report it is easy to see that it is no more than a vehicle to further justify the aims of certain ill-intentioned people to create regionally controlled and directed administration of police injury pensions. All in a good cause – of course. To help ensure consistency. The truth, we suspect, is to ensure that the Regulations are manipulated and abused consistently by all forces instead of just a few.
“Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations. Both forces and staff associations report difficulties managing these issues due to key personal leaving the organisation or being absent for short periods due to sickness or prolonged periods of leave.“
“Many forces are struggling” . . . what about those unfortunates suffering from the permanent effects of a duty injury who have to struggle to deal with the admittedly inexperienced and direction-less ‘key personnel’? The College of Policing”s report does not reflect that it is mismanagement of resources, poor recruitment policies in respect of senior HR staff, and bad leadership that is the cause. A lifetime with an injury pension can be made toxic because of the incompetence of a single poorly trained HR manager.
At the time of writing, very few forces are currently engaged in performing reviews of previous IoD decisions, many having not done so since the Home Office correspondence in 10 March 2010 following critical case law. The issues relating to the appropriateness of conducting reviews notwithstanding, the decision not to review has resulted in a significant degradation of the skill level of those staff members who had previous experience of this work. Many of whom, as a result of ongoing financial cuts to relevant departments, are no longer working for the police service.
The decision NOT to review! The College openly now accepts something we have long known and which some forces have long denied: that the decision to review is discretionary and is not the often touted absolute power which commands everyone with an award has be dragged over the coals for a review every 2 years. Forces can’t claim they have a duty to review when it is evidential that they have habitually not held reviews. They can’t have it both ways.
There is no specific training available to the FMAs and it is recognised that the quality of the SMP decision will be very much dependant on the information provided by the FMA and force occupational health.
What are they on about? The decision of the SMP is purely a factual medical decision, which the SMP as a doctor who, by law, must be ‘duly qualified’ to make. The SMPs decision is based on the consideration of substantial change since the last decision. That decision rests on the SMPs assessment of the pensioner’s medical condition.
Why should any submission from the occupational health unit have any relevance to a matter that does not concern them? The SMP is the decision-maker, not Occupational Health or HR. The only information which the SMP need be supplied with can come solely via the pensioner. It should be no more that the individual’s medical record since the time of the last final decision on degree of disablement and the pensioner’s account of his or her present state of health as affected by duty injury.
What is happening is that the independent role of the SMP is being interfered with, influenced and eroded. The above statement in the College’s report shows the extent of the toxic prejudice, and the institutionalised agenda to influence the SMP.
It is recognised that these processes are complex and expensive to the force and potentially led to a disservice of officers who have been injured in the line of duty. This lack of training also impacts on the ability of the force to manage these processes as the core knowledge is invested in only a small number of individuals. Where forces do not possess the knowledge, there is no immediate resource available to assist in managing these processes properly or monitor compliance in IHR and IoD decisions.
The College admits that they are failing officers who have been injured in the line of duty. But still in Avon & Somerset, the likes of Wood (HR Business Manager), Jones (HR Manager) and Bulpitt (FMA) – the cabal of the above mentioned small number of individuals – continue their crusade to undermine injury pensions further. Are they not responsible for a disservice to officers who have been injured in the line of duty? Why, we have to ask, are they left to further add their concentrated toxicity to the process with nothing to neutralise them? Could it be that no other person in the force has any clue what they are up to? Or is it nearer to the truth that no other person cares what they are up to?
Here are a few bullet points that the College left out their report:
- Retired officers often feel abhorrence to the force that they left. Being pragmatic former police officers, it is not the injury that they begrudge, so much as how the force focused it’s ire and treated them like a contaminated contagious foreign body that needed to be expelled.
- Those with an injury pension have made it their business to understand the Regulations and case-law. We know far more than the inexperienced and poorly trained ‘key personnel’ which infest so many forces, as alluded to in the College’s report.
- After HOC 46/2004, we have had enough. We will not stand for further abuse and maladministration.
“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Reviews only work if the process has trust. The report of the College of Policing shows that the medical retirement process itself is broken. A broken process generates distrust. Why would anyone who has been treated unfairly, even unlawfully, allow the force that did them such a disservice back into their life so that the force can roll them over again with a view to reducing the force’s financial commitments? Once bitten, twice shy.
The world has moved on; the Regulations are the same but pensioners experience of abuses over the years against injury awards by those mentioned in the College of Policing report means things are profoundly different now from what they once were. Pensioners are educated in the wiles of errant HR, Occupational Health personnel and corrupt SMPs and know how to recognise them, and how to deal with them. The recent past abuses can not be easily forgotten, if ever. The current evolving abuses cannot be tolerated or allowed to continue. Unless there is a disclosure of the full truth behind these abuses followed by a genuine change of attitude within forces, and open minded reconciliation then it is unlikely that anyone who has an injury award will blindly allow themselves to be victims again.