into injury pension reviews. We present the evidence
“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”
― Jim Butcher, Vignette
IODPA has often referred to Home Office circular 46/2004 as being the start of the rot and the beginning of the end for justice in applying the injury Regulations in the manner they were intended. We have laid the blame mostly on ‘The Bureaucratium’ of the civil servants’ desire to save the ‘public purse’ by trampling on the rights of disabled former officers. The following years clearly evidenced that the more massive a ‘Bureaucratium’ becomes; it only becomes less caring and more potent.
Elements within the Home Office had built up their own sense of importance to such an extent that they saw nothing wrong in encouraging police authorities and chief officers to trample on the Regulations. The rampage initiated by HOC 46/2004 was only brought to an end by the few brave individuals who took their individual cases to judicial review and the Pension Ombudsman.
But what if we say that it wasn’t just the Home Office that got us into this mess? Of course, they lit the fuse. But who provided the match?
Would you be surprised to hear it was a group of people who once held the office of constable themselves? Back in the day, before they reached their halcyon career heights, these people could have been injured on duty. So who were these monkeys to the Home Office’s organ grinder?
The HO asked ACPO for its feedback on the draft of what was to become Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The Chief Constable of Staffordshire, John Giffard, replied for ACPO. He was the designated lead for ACPO on police pensions. He spoke for all Chief Officers when he told the Home Office:
- ‘I suspect that my original intention was always to deal with people reaching 65 years of age and that remains the most important part. We continue to think that at that stage anybody in receipt of an injury award should be automatically dropped to the lowest band or possibly even completely dropped.’
- You may think it remarkable that such a group of very senior police officers would not understand that the Regulations do not allow an injury award to be ‘automatically dropped’ or ceased, as he suggests. One possibility is that they understood perfectly well, but were prepared to sell IOD pensioners down the river, as the HO appeared to be willing to support a raid on injury pensions.In 2004 this could have all been stopped.
- The dubious practice of manipulating the injury pension Regulations so as to attempt to save money could have been blocked, scuppered before it gathered any momentum. Instead, due in no small part to the ready acquiescence of ACPO, we have seen the rise and spread of corrupt practices where the purpose and intent of the Regulations are disregarded, to the very great detriment of both serving and retired officers.
- This is what the Home Office wrote to John Giffard CBE QPM, aforementioned Chief Constable Staffordshire Police, asking for his views concerning the proposed new method of reviewing and thus reducing injury pensions of those reaching 65 years of age.
Giffard should have replied, “Not on my life. You are not allowed to do this – the Regulations forbid it”. But no. He gave the Home Office ACPO’s rubber stamp of approval, and even went further. According to Giffard’s outrageous view, expressed on behalf of all Chief Officers across the land, injury pensions should actually be ceased at that age. He was not talking about some future, revision of Regulations, some new diminished injury pension provision. He was talking about subverting the current Regulations.
The line about “expecting, but not concerned with” a challenge from the Staff Associations is a nice touch and tells us something more about the moral bankruptcy of the man and of the organisation he represented. He obviously realised the significance of what he was suggesting but coolly calculated the Federation would be baffled and too impotent to do anything about the planned pension raid.
ACPO were quite willing to throw injured former officers to the wolves and to let the survivors do what they could to rescue their pension rights by challenging maladministration at judicial review. Instead of supporting and protecting former officers – and serving officers, for they too might become injured on duty and have to retire on a pension – ACPO deliberately chose to side with the Home Office and agree to what it may well have realised was an unlawful abuse of the law.
I will conclude this eye-opening account of the duplicity of one Chief Constable, acting on behalf of all his peers, with the sobering reminder that all Chief Constables are now the Police Pension Authorities. They have responsibility for the administration of the injury pension scheme. Frightening isn’t it? Having this fox in the police pension hen-house set-up is no different from trusting the organ grinder’s monkey to guard the money instead of spending it on bananas.