“All cruelty springs from weakness.” -Seneca”
― Clarissa Wild,
If ever you think your former police service has your best intentions at heart when they are minded to ‘review’ your injury pension, then please consider the case of Mr X.
Mr X is a IOD pensioner who was retired from The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Policing is tough over there, but the Regulations concerning Injury on Duty awards across the Irish sea are essentially identical to those in and England & Wales.
Heed the wise words of the Pension Ombudsman:
“Those cases have been concerned with the Police Injury Benefit Regulations for England and Wales, but the Northern Ireland Regulations mirror these and, therefore, the same principles can be expected to apply.”
Take note that the horrendous saga of maladministration we recount is not an outlier – similar injustice is happening now to dozens of former officers across the country and has the potential to envelope completely the lives of any person put under ‘review’.
Think on this if you are a Federation Rep or a SMP who is reading these words, perhaps tutting to yourself and thinking that we here at IODPA have the wrong end of the stick; that we are against the ‘system’ and ruining everything for every ‘legitimate IOD’.
Yes, that’s how too many Fed think:
‘play along to get along’;
‘don’t rock the boat’;
‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’;
‘You’ve had a good innings’;
‘Just give the doctor whatever he wants’ .
We don’t know which is worse, these pathetic cringing words of advice, or the more usual absence of any useful advice at all.
Well, Fed Reps,SMPs and all IOD pensioners, let us tell you about the 6 years and counting of legal hell suffered by Mr X just because he has an IOD award? Something similar is what all IOD pensioners risk facing if ever their HR Department comes calling with the intent of reviewing their injury pension.
PO-7548 1 Ombudsman’s Determination
Applicant Mr X Scheme Police Injury Benefit Scheme (Northern Ireland) Respondent(s) Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB)
Read the determination yourself here.
Mr X was retired in 1999. His degree of disablement has been reviewed in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012. Mr X has needed to complain about gross maladministration to the Pension Ombudsman 3 times and has had determinations made in his favour three times – in April 2013, April 2014 and September 2015.
It is horrific that any police pension authority could get things atrociously wrong again and again.
There is no such thing as a benign review – it rips people apart.
Consider for a moment, if you will, how this man has had what should have been a peaceful retirement shattered. Over the past 16 years he has been summoned again and again to dance to the tune of the HR department only to be rolled over again and again by the unfeeling, deeply flawed machine of bureaucracy.
Shamefully, he has had to find the strength all by himself, alone, unaided, to undo the wrong visited upon him. This struggle dominated his days and eroded what remained of his health.
We at IODPA reflect with sorrow that Mr X is a rarity. Very few IOD pensioners have the strength, determination and knowledge to make and follow through any sort of complaint. Alarmingly, we believe that the vast majority of IOD pensioners do not even realise there has been maladministration. Mr X is not a rarity in that respect. He is just one example of the victimisation and maltreatment – we would call it abuse – of former officers who were injured in the line of duty.
The reviews Mr X faced in 2009 and 2012 were found by the Pensions Ombudsman to have been unsound and Mr X was restored to the banding he was on in 2007.
In 2014 Mr X met the SMP, a Dr ‘D’, who apologised to Mr X for the errors the doctor had made and subsequently wrote to the police pension authority to state that in 2011 he had determined that Mr X was 100% disabled in relation to earning capacity. Dr D said no apportionment should have been applied for either musculoskeletal problems or constitutional psychological factors.
In May 2014 Mr X then wrote to the police pension authority to demand a Regulatory reconsideration process to undo the errors. His award has been bounced down and up but it has not been backdated for the periods he was unlawfully reduced. The money unlawfully taken from him had not been repaid. This person has been blighted by years of unlawful guff, things written about him, occupation health records appended to with ‘this and that’ of things that should be excluded and so Mr X wanted to wipe the slate clean. All those years wasted when he should have been on the correct banding from 2010 – 3 years after the 2007 review as scheduled by the police pension authority.
Now we get into the bizarre world of legal services and dark recess of the minds of those employed in HR departments. The application of Mr X for a reconsideration was refused on the grounds that the Northern Ireland Police Board (NIPB) viewed that as the Pension Ombudsman had set aside or quashed the 2009 and 2012 decision there was nothing to reconsider and that Mr X should just have another review !
Do you detect a position of attrition here? A strategy of belligerent attempts to win by wearing down the IOD to the point of collapse. Delay, obfuscate and confuse rather than just do the right thing. Even after the stages of the internal dispute resolution procedures, the NIPB repeatedly sought to avoid the opportunity to redeem itself.
Mr X can no more think another review will be performed without error than look out his window and see pink elephants taking to the skies. The best thing for the NIPB would had been to allow Dr D to perform a reconsideration and to give Mr X the back dated payments he deserves. But no – it took a third finding by the Pension Ombudsman to force the NIPB to begrudgingly start to do the right thing.
This is what a review can do to a person. For every Fed Rep or NARPO Rep who thinks their force is kind and benevolent to their IODs, they need to read the case of Mr X. Any IOD, anywhere, can find themselves caught up in the same unending nightmare.
Let’s not forget the large question mark which hovers over the matter of why Mr X has been reviewed so frequently since 1999. Is he a criminal who has to attend meetings with his probation officer? Does someone think he does not deserve his pension? Is he secretly earning a vast salary working for an International conglomerate? No. None of these things. He spends his days bravely trying to deal with his disability. So why is he treated like a criminal or an unworthy pauper petitioner to be hauled in to account for his sinful way of life to the local Watch Committee?
Mr X understandably has no confidence now in any review procedure. Thanks only to his determination and to the Pension Ombudsman he will now have his reconsideration.
After this he should be left alone to live his life in peace.
We sincerely hope that will be the case.