Month: January 2016

2005 to 2015 – A Decade Measured

2005 to 2015  – A Decade Measured

“There’s no going back, and there’s no hiding the information. So let everyone have it.”
Andrew Kantor

An often-asked question is, ‘How many former police officers have injury awards?’

The Home Office claims it doesn’t have a clue about numbers.  Whether you believe that or not is up to you.

So, unfortunately there is no central database, and with 43 police forces in England and Wales, one in Northern Ireland and one in Scotland, gathering in the information is something of a chore.  We at IODPA are pleased to say that for us it was a task worth undertaking.  And the results of our enquiry are revealing.

IODPA has been busy.  Using the Freedom of Information Act, all police forces except Police Scotland* were asked the question of how many injury award recipients they have. They were also asked how many reviews of injury pensions have been conducted by year since 2005.

* We didn’t ask Police Scotland because we get no enquiries from north of the border, and we also understand that having recently combined eight forces into one some record systems are in a mess.

First, the facts. The results are set out below in graphical form. Then the comment. We have added some observations on what the figures might indicate to conclude this post.

Not all forces have provided the information requested. South Wales Police and Lancashire Police both advise that they have handed over all their files concerning police injury pensions to commercial companies, who are now, it seems, administering these pensions. Cumbria Constabulary and Surrey Police are experiencing delays in providing the information.

From the data we have received we know there are 15,543 disabled former officers in receipt of injury pensions. By looking at some previous research, undertaken in 2011, we are able to estimate that the true figure is in excess of 16,500.

At the end of 2010, there were 13,872 IOD pensioners in England and Wales.  If we remove the PSNI figure of 2,566 IOD pensioners from our current estimated total, we see that in England and Wales, there are around currently 14,000 IOD pensioners on the books.

IOD ratio to Serving
Plot 1. Percentage of IODs to Serving Officers by Force (2015)

Plot 1 shows the ratio as a percent of IODs to serving officers by each force.  Those forces without a bar (at the bottom of the axis) have as yet not replied to the FOIA request

Unsurprisingly, Police Service of Northern Ireland, has the biggest proportion of IODs at almost 35%.  Other forces with a high proportion of IODs are: Kent, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, Northumbria, North Wales and Avon & Somerset.

Plot number 2 is a bar chart showing the actual number of IODs of each force.

Number of IOD Pensioners
Plot 2. Number of IOD Pensioners by Force (2015)

Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester, Kent, Merseyside, the Met,  Northumbria, Northern Ireland and West Yorkshire all have 500 or over current IODs.

Plot 3 displays the percentage of IOD pensions of each force which have been reviewed over the past 5 years.  No blue bar means no reviews.  Only 12 forces have instigated any reviews over the past 5 years.

Percentage Reviewed
Plot 3. Percentage of IODs Reviewed by Force 2011 – 2015

Now we start to see patterns appear.  The names of forces with either a high proportion of IODs to serving officers or/and over 500 IODs reappear as forces that have also reviewed post the Home Office suspension in 2010.  Avon & Somerset, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire are visible again.

Could it be that the greater number or higher proportion of IODs, the greater the incentive to attempt to reduce their financial burden?

Plot 4 shows us the distribution for the total count of reviews of each force  by the two 5 year periods: 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink).

Plot 4. Histogram (frequency count) of all  reviews 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink)

A simplified description of plot 4 is that there is a lot of blue.  Most of the pink is in the first column – the range of counts at zero. In other words in 2011-2015 most forces did not review anyone. The blue counts are asymmetrical.  This means the blue stretches to the right (right skewed)  and there are significantly more values of blue to the right as compared to pink.  Something ‘happened’ in  2005 and this ‘something’ stopped in 2010.

That something was the 2004 guidance contained in Annex C to Home Office circular 46/2004. The guidance contained the remarkable assertion that at age 65 all former officers suddenly lost all capacity to work and thus earn. The guidance also contained some illogical mumbo-jumbo about needing to revise injury pensions at what would be normal force retirement age.

The Home Office suspended all reviews in 2010 because the guidance was finally, after much pointless resistance by the Home Office, agreed to be unlawful. Police Authorities and Chief Constables had been shown to have been abusing the police pension Regulations, with the encouragement of the Home Office.

Plot 5 dramatically displays the initial enthusiasm, from 2005, for reviewing with a pre-ordained intention to reduce everyone no matter what the medical circumstances of the individual.  This came to a crashing halt in 2010.


review 2005-2015
Plot 5. Scatterplot of number of reviews by Force and Year 2005 to 2015

Plot 5 shows the flat-lining of reviews post 2010 with only a few forces daring to raise their heads. Merseyside in 2015 is a massive outlier – to be able to hold so many reviews in just one year their processes will have had to been changed dramatically from the norm of the past decade.

The data shows that a sudden enthusiasm for holding reviews of injury pensions, triggered by the Home Office guidance, was not universal, and that it rapidly tailed off once pensioners brought grievances to the attention of the High Court and the Pensions Ombudsman. The Home Office retreated and withdrew its guidance, but the damage was done.

The year on year reduction of reviews over the past decade is backed up with data published by the Home Office in relation to the decisions made in Police Medical Appeal Boards.  Plot 6 shows the numbers of PMAB decisions by the type of hearing: reviews (degree of disablement) or original decisions (permanency, whether it is an IOD,  disablement).

There has been a visible decline in all PMABs with a flat lining of hearings in the 12 months between Nov 13-Oct14.

PMAB results by year
Plot 6.  PMAB hearings by Year and Decision

Strong anecdotal evidence suggests that some Police Pension Authorities are solving their own ‘review’ conundrum by not awarding any injury on duty pensions (and deviantly leaving the officer on both no pay and indefinite sick leave).  Or if an award is given the force uses, in the words of NAMF,  the ‘neither lawful or unlawful’ method of the PEAM to only award band one to the former officer.

Plot 7 shows that over the past 7 years there has been an overall 2% increase in the total number of former officers with an Injury Award.

What is striking is the massive variation between forces.

Some Forces have doubled their number of IOD awards (Kent) whilst others have seen their number halved (Norfolk). Has Kent become twice as dangerous? These figures in isolation may seen trivial to the casual observer but by quantifying the figures now we have a baseline that will be the enabler to show future trends.  This will mean that no force can hide their actions from IODPA and other interested parties.

Percent Change IODs 2008 to 2015
Plot 7. Percentage change of IODs by Force from 2008 to 2015


What can not be displayed graphically is the fact that those who have caused so damage to so many medically retired officers by unlawfully conducting reviews are still in their jobs. They have destroyed what little trust existed but still they hold meetings and discuss alternative methods to undermine the Regulations. It is as though they were shown a glimpse of a golden future, where they were promised that what has been described by more than one mercenary member of HR as ‘the burden’ of police injury pension payments could be dramatically reduced. Having seen the illusion of pots of money flowing from the pockets of disabled former officers, to be spent on flashy new cars and computer systems and hiring more and more ‘Heads of People’ or other equally ridiculously-titled poppinjays, it is hard for some people to abandon the dream.

We at IODPA are confident any such dream will turn into a nightmare if there are any further attempts to subvert the Regulations and rob IOD pensioners of their rights.

Looking at the numbers – around 14,000 disabled former officers – we have to wonder why neither NARPO nor the Police Federation apparently have no database of former officers who are in receipt of an injury pension. It is a mystery.  Protecting the pension rights of disabled former officers would be made easier if these two representative organisations made the effort to compile a database.  Interestingly, we understand that NARPO does not even ask the question, ‘Do you have an injury pension?’ when former officers apply to join.

We mentioned the Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to chart one. The biggest force, with the largest number of IOD pensioners. We are glad to say that this force has taken major steps to put right the iniquities of maladministration which resulted from abuse of the Regulations. This force commissioned an eminent QC, David Scoffield, to enquire into everything, and to produce recommendations. Which he did. And which the PSNI are currently busy implementing.

But, are forces on the mainland watching and listening to events in Northern Ireland? As always, the picture is divided. We can see from the data above that the vast majority of forces in England and Wales either have not held any reviews since 2010, or have held only a handful. However, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire are still in cloud-cuckoo land and have been busy trying to mass review.

Either these forces have lost all touch with reality, or they are an axis of evil. Why would any decent, ethical, humanitarian organisation want to continue holding reviews when all the evidence is that no force has the structure in place, the experience, the training, or the knowledge to do so without continuing to make glaring errors and causing much distress and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families? That’s not just IODPA’s opinion, it is the facts, as set out in a recent report of an enquiry by the College of Policing. (Which we reported on in an earlier blog).

So, should we be pleased that so few reviews have been held over the last five years? When we see that of the 806 reviews held there were 55 pensioners who had their pensions increased, but 83 who suffered a decrease we have to reserve judgement. We think it entirely possible that the forces who have held reviews may be ‘cherry-picking’ – selecting the pensioners on the higher bandings for review, whilst leaving everyone who is on band one alone. That is certainly the case in Avon and Somerset.

We suspect that never holding reviews can be as bad, for some people as holding mass reviews. Those people who have experienced a worsening of their degree of disablement since 2010 and who should have been upped a band or more, have been denied their proper rate of pension.

We conclude that reviews are a necessary part of the provisions within the Regulations. We have often stated that we are not against reviews, per se, but we want to see all forces abandon their attitude where they think reviews are a means of saving money, and that all pensioners are scroungers or lead-swingers. We want to see forces set up proper systems to allow reviews to be conducted only when absolutely necessary and appropriate, and done so within the spirit and letter of the Regulations, and we want to see pensioners treated with dignity and respect. We want to see certain ‘hired-gun’ SMPs sacked, or better still, sacked and charged with corruption or fraud. We want to see certain incompetent HR managers employed at their true level of ability stacking shelves or collecting trolleys at Tescos. Only then will we rest content. Until that time we will continue to grow in strength, and in numbers, and our determination to see justice prevail will never waver.




“Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.”
Bruce Coville (WDTK) is an extremely valuable website.  Without it the Freedom of Information Act would  be in a far, far greater perilous state than it is at the moment.

You have the right to request information from any publicly-funded body, and get answers. WhatDoTheyKnow helps you make a Freedom of Information request. It also publishes all requests online

The unique attraction, and strength,  of WDTK is the on-line publication of each request and the responses by public bodies. By putting everything into the public domain in such a visible and readily accessible form it makes it that much harder for a public body to deal with one requester differently from another. The responses are also instantly searchable by key word and it is possible to tag a public body, or an individual request and get automated updates in one’s area of interest.

When Freedom of Information requests are made by letter or email only the requester knows whether the public body has responded promptly, and unless the organisation has a web based publication policy, and follows it, nobody else gets to see the information gathered.

The WDTK website automatically calculates what the deadline for a response should be, and alerts the requester should there be a delay. The site also contains useful hints and tips on how (and how not) to make a FOI request, and what to do should an organisation refuse to provide the requested information.

In short, WDTK makes it easy for anyone to make FOI requests, and we at IODPA recommend it.

For the more technical minded, it is worth knowing that there is a useful tool which can be used to extract data from WTDK. It is called JSON.  This stands for Javascript Object Notation.  This geeky name isn’t important and there is a point to all this so please don’t tune out yet!

Requests, users and authorities all have JSON versions containing basic information about them. Every request feed has a JSON equivalent, containing summary information about the list of events in the feed. In other words, this tool provides a quick way of getting numbers from everything on WDTK.

Want to instantly know how any requests the Home Office has received? How many were answered?  How many are overdue?  For an example of what can be done, take a look at this:

Home Office JSON link

So what does this all mean to you?  It means we can quickly quantify and compare how public authorities deal with FOIA requests.  Of course, not all requests are sent through WDTK but it is the most widely used method so is hugely representative.

An interesting statistic comes in the answer to this question: of all the public authorities listed as being a policing body, how many requests are unsuccessful?

Would it shock you to to learn that over half of all requests made to public bodies via WDTK which are classed as ‘policing’ were not successful?  Policing bodies are making a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act!

Here is a frequency chart, otherwise known as a histogram,  which is a diagram consisting of rectangles whose area is proportional to the count.  The count in this case is the percentage of unsuccessful requests by all bodies listed on WDTK as classified as a ‘policing body’.


See the high bars, from the tallest, at 40%, 50%,100% and 70%?  40% is the mode; the mode is a type of average and on a histogram it is the tallest column and so is the value that appears most often in a set of data.  The next highest is 50% then 100% and so on.  As you can see there are more bars the further right you look.  The average of the data is 59.8%.  In other words almost 60% of requests to policing bodies are unsuccessful.

So 60% of requests to police authorities are not answered!  Shameful isn’t it.

Policing bodies apparently have a culture of doing whatever they can to prevent disclosure under the FOI act.

To prove this point let us see how NHS trusts compare.  This histogram has the same data as the above but this time we have overlapped the figures of policing bodies unsuccessful requests with data from the 237 active NHS trusts listed on WDTK.

nhs and policing

The NHS trusts are shown in blue and the policing body data is now in pink.  It is clear that the NHS trusts are far more consistent with each other – the blue bars are grouped significantly closer together than the pink.  But look at the highest point now with the sharp decline of blue to its right and notice that there is only a small handful of NHS trusts that fail to answer more than 50% of received requests – this is directly contrary to the majority of the policing bodies whose unsuccessful request count spans further to the right and all the way to 100%.  Past 50% there is much, much more pink than blue.

The average of unsuccessful requests for NHS trusts is only 32%.   Stating the obvious, this is significantly lower when compared to the 59.8% of policing bodies.

Why the difference? And why is the NHS performing better in answering FOIA requests? The disclosure law applies in equal measure to all.  There is no doubt that within policing bodies an institutional arrogance exists that makes them think they are above the legal requirement to make information disclosures.

Let us examine which policing bodies are the most frequent offenders.  Using JSON we can examine the number of requests received by each policing body and plot this with the number of requests outstanding (outstanding means the request hasn’t been answered and has gone over the 20 day answer deadline).  The size of plot represents, by body, the number of requests, which are not successful (the bigger the shape, the higher the count of unsuccessful requests).


For the sake of simplicity we have only coloured the shapes that are way above the blue  ‘expected’  regression line or are of interest; the remainder are grey.  The Metropolitan Police is the pink circle in the top right who  has received over 2500 requests and has 130 currently overdue.  It is below the blue line so this is in proportion to what is expected of a force of that size.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary  (blue), Dorset Police (orange), Essex Police (green), Greater Manchester Police (red), Humberside Police (lilac), Kent Police (purple) and Sussex Police (yellow) all seem to be offenders when it comes to not answering requests as they are high above the expected value and way above their peers.

Perhaps the Information Commissioner should start asking questions of these 7 police forces.

There needs to be a root and branch inquiry into the deliberate methods used by some policing authorities to undermine the FOI act. Unfortunately, the responses provided by the police officials who have responsibility for responding to requests are often quite remarkable in how creative and underhand they are at not providing information.

Below are some of the ways in which policing bodies delay and prevent the publication of information

  1.  Why respond promptly when you can reply on the 11th hour on the 20th day.
  2. Ignore the request completely.
  3. Claiming they didn’t understand the request
  4. Blatantly start counting the time allowed for a response from a date convenient to them 
  5. Wrongly declare the request requires an unreasonable allocation of resources.
  6. They decide at the beginning that they don’t want to give the information and only then seek inappropriate exemptions to justify the non-disclosure.
  7. Using one exemption to justify a refusal, then when challenged successfully, falling back on a different exemption.
  8. They provide lip service to any public interest test, and inevitably say it is not in the public interest to provide the information.
  9. Any internal review results in a foregone conclusion rubber stamp confirmation of their original refusal.  An internal review hardly ever corrects the wrong use of an exemption.
  10. Finally, they fall back on saying that they don’t have the information when they know full well they do.

Until these FOI departments understand the ethos of the Act they will carry on the abuse. We at IODPA have good reason to believe that the staff who work in the FOI offices of policing bodies are subjected to interference and pressure from senior people to refuse providing information.

Few members of the public realise that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) run a ‘Central Referral Unit’ which, perhaps understandably, requires all policing bodies to alert the Unit to requests relating to security matters, firearms, witness protection and other sensitive topics. There are three categories flagged from Low to High. Interestingly, the Unit expects to be sent a copy of requests relating to information sent to and from a policing body to a national body – and the Home Office is given as the single example of such a national body.

We know, however, that some forces run to the Unit when they have a request they don’t like and seek advice on how to prevent giving out the information requested.

Policing, by its very nature, cultivates a culture of tight lips. Small wonder then that policing bodies find it hard to come to an understanding that providing information is a legal duty. The FOI Act provides ample protection to allow policing bodies to keep information from the public which we would all accept should be kept from the public. We also fully appreciate that some requests for information are far too detailed, ask for far too much information in one go, or are just rants about some topic or other. Such time-wasters are universal. All forces get them. So why do some policing bodies have a far worse record that do others when it comes to refusals? And why are policing bodies so very much worse than the NHS in handling and responding to requests?




Bad Medicine

Bad Medicine

“Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.”

“Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.”

The College of Policing released a report in 2015 concerning an inquiry it arranged into the Injury on Duty process. This post will discuss how that report revealed issues concerning the Occupational Health clinicians who are used by forces in the role of ‘duly qualified medical practitioners‘ as required by the Regulations which govern police injury pensions.

Each of the quotes used below are excerpts from the College’s report.

Before I begin, I need to mention the structure of the College.

It is perhaps not quite the independent seat of learning and academic rigour which one might naturally expect of anything calling itself a ‘college’. It is currently a private limited company, with but one shareholder, who is the Home Secretary. It’s own web site tells us that,

As the College is currently a company limited by guarantee, as well as an Arm’s Length Body of the Home Office, all members of the Board are Company Directors.

In plain language, the College is the Home Office pretending to be an academic institution.

Being arm’s length is a bit like the Mafia setting up apparently legitimate shell companies to launder its money and to give the appearance of respectability. With the Home Office it is not dirty money which needs to be laundered, but dirty, disrespectful ideas which seek to undermine the law of the land.

Just as the College is not quite what it would like us to think it is, much the same sort of misdirection applies to the odd little off-shoot of the medical profession known as Occupational Health.

By some self-publicising accounts Occupation Health is a, ‘multi-disciplinary approach to developing and ensuring compliance with safe working practices, and maintaining the health and well-being of those employed in a particular occupation or workplace’.

Phew. Quite a mouthful.  One has to wonder quite what that has to do with regards to administration of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations. Yet the situation is that forces have been persuaded to accept that any SMP must hold a minimum qualification in occupational health.

Occupational Health clinicians like to get people back to work, or help prevent them getting injured or ill in the first place. That is their raison d’etre. Notwithstanding that a police officer is not an employee (they are holders of office), once medically retired a former officer injured on duty is no longer employed in any sense of the word – they are retired via incapacity – so it is hard to see quite what value an occupational health clinician can bring to the area of police injury pensions.

Injury on Duty awards are governed by Regulations, which mention not a single word about duly qualified medical practitioners needing to have a qualification in occupational health. All that the Regulations require is the selected medic is actually qualified to practice – which means they must be registered with the GMC.

So, how is it that IOD pensioners are now faced with having to be assessed by medics whose chosen ‘specialisation’ has effectively removed most of them from the actual day-to-day practice of ‘real’ doctoring? The answer is that some few years ago, the now-defunct Police Negotiating Board, whose remit was to negotiate the details of pay and conditions for serving police officers, strangely decided to issue a joint circular, with the Home Office, in which it agreed that all ‘duly qualified medical practitioners’ who were to make decisions under the Regulations should hold a minimum qualification in occupational health.

The effect of this has been to narrow the pool of duly qualified medical practitioners who might work as ‘selected medical practitioners’ (SMPs) down from the approximately 236,000 doctors who are licensed to practice medicine in the UK, to a measly handful of doctors who have bothered to qualify for what most mainstream doctors regard as the utterly irrelevant specialisation of occupational health.

The small number of potential doctors who can be selected by a police pension authority has been further diminished by the interference of the National Attendance Management Forum which has seen fit to produce a list of doctors it claims ‘have shown an interest in’ working as SMPs. This is, of course, typical new-speak meaning that these doctors are the sort who are either gullible enough or corrupt enough to see the Regulations as no more than a general guide which can be ignored.

Disabled former officers have been powerless to prevent the erosion of the role of what was intended by the Regulations to be performed by independent, experienced medical professionals. Instead, they now face the prospect of the level of their pension income being in the dubious hands of doctors who are on the very bottom tier of the medical profession, and who have shown themselves to be variously incompetent, corrupt or ignorant of what the Regulations require of them.

IODPA has seen examples of SMPs knowing full well that a former officer is a 100% band 4 but still, with perverse logic, and directly contrary to the Regulations, give the retiree a figure of 85% in order to provide some forlorn future ‘hope’ of a recovery to the disabled person. Similarly, SMPs have looked to the future and speculated about what jobs a retiree may be able to do – thus completely missing the point that an assessment of degree of disablement is supposed to be based the extent the disabling effects of duty injury have – past tense – had on the individual’s capacity to work. In other perversions, SMPs ‘decide’ that an individual is, say, 50% disabled, only for some HR pen-pusher with no medical qualifications take a short list of wages which might be earned, compare them to either the former police salary earned, or some nominal figure plucked from the data on national earnings produced by the Office of National Statistics, and then – wait for it – take one from the other to determine a ‘degree of disablement’ then take the 50% off the resultant figure.

This sort of manipulation is without a doubt completely unlawful. IODPA gives fair warning to HR managers, SMPs and Chief Constables that this issue will be dealt with in the High Court in due course.

Given that considerable doubt has been cast on the professional competence of SMPs, on their independence, and on the unwarranted and illegal interference with their decisions by HR personnel, any reasonable police pension authority would cease the practice of wage comparison at once. Of course, we at IODPA know full well that police pension authorities will do what they always do and deny there is anything wrong.

Just as occupational health qualifications have no part to play in the role of SMP so is reason, common sense and decency absent from the small number of Chief Constables who continue to allow their wayward HR managers to abuse disabled former officers and stick two fingers up to the Regulations.

We need now to return to the inquiry which the College of Policing completed, to get a glimpse of the full, disturbing picture of the shambles that is the administration of police injury pensions.

Shockingly, the College admits that that some forces take delight in the subversion of the Regulatory process by influencing the SMP. Moreover some SMPs take delight in being influenced to do the subversion – what better way to keep the paymaster happy!

In the event of incidents of force subversion of the regulatory process, considering SMPs are on the whole employees of occupational health providers working under contract with the force, there is a clear conflict of interest for the companies in question in the event that a SMP raised concerns. – paragraph 19.10

That is no surprise to us. Add together a force willing to subvert a lawful process with a SMP whose occupational health mindset is such that they only sees their role as being to get someone back to work and you have a rather a monstrous double-sided conflict of interest.

The College reveals there is little attraction in working as a SMP.

In addition to this there is a general perception articulated by a number of clinicians who engage with this review that the police service is not a desirable employer. At the heart of this issue appears to be concerns over vulnerability to baseless complaints, or threats of complaints, by officers or former officers, to the GMC in order to obtain more favourable pension settlements. Other SMPs report perceived pressure from management to obstruct the process and influence decisions – paragraph 19.7

It is the involvement of and bastardisation of ‘guidance’ by the National Attendance Management Forum, and the fact that it has produced a list of doctors, and companies providing doctors who are willing to act as SMPs that has meant a small pool of lowly occupational health clinicians now have a monopoly. The NAMF has its set list of preferred SMPs – a list that, we repeat, has had the consequence of further stifling the available pool of competent clinicians. SMPs are now given work just because they have been working as SMPs and not because their judgements are sound.

Otherwise excellent doctors are either barred from becoming SMPs or see the role as beneath them, and dangerous to their professional reputation to boot.

Many forces are experiencing increasing difficulty in identifying suitable doctors to perform this role. The role of the SMP is a specialist one and at the time of writing the available resource is limited. Historically, when the relevant regulations were written, many SMPs worked as Force Medical Advisors (FMA) in other forces. However ongoing changes to occupational health delivery has resulted in the vast majority of forces now obtaining clinicians from private companies with no prior background of the police service.- paragraph 19.3


One of the problems relating to the difficulties in obtaining suitable doctors as SMPs is cost. Whilst SMPs can represent a significant cost resource to Forces, SMP work is relatively poorly paid compared to other roles clinicians can obtain both in the field of occupational medicine and in the private sector. In addition to this, the General Medical Council (GMC), in their 2014 edition of our annual ‘state of medical education and practice’ report, recognises the decline in the number of doctors choosing to go into occupational medicine and reports that occupational health has more doctors aged over 50 than any other speciality. – paragraph 19.5

On one hand the College is saying there is a shortage of SMPs and on another they say they are underpaid. Market forces do not work this way. A rare resource can charge an inflated amount; what the College fails to report is that a cabal of SMPs have a monopoly and all the available work is taken by a small number of well-paid ‘guns for hire’.  We know, for example, of one SMP who was paid over £45,000 for conducting fewer than a dozen reviews. These ‘established’ names suffocate competition and prevent new blood from entering the profession.

We have to also comment that it seems the College is saying that becoming a SMP is really the last chance saloon for occupational health clinicians who have failed to make a living elsewhere.

The situation, according to the College, is that these rather pathetic failures are thrown in the deep end when they take on the role of SMP.

There is at present no recognised training or qualification for Force Medical Advisors (FMA) attempting to manage these complex issues, or for SMPs, who must make statutory, quasi-judicial decisions.- paragraph 15.3

It is not the Regulations which are complex. In fact, as statutory instruments go, they are concise and clear. The esoteric fog only exists because the police pension authorities have, in the words of the College, repeatedly attempted to subvert the process. It has fallen to the judiciary to undo the damage the Home Office and individual forces inflict on the Regulation’s interpretation.

Perhaps the raw truth is more like the College has heard forces moan to them that they are finding it difficult to undermine the Regulations. That, having dreamed up a cunning plan to control the supply of doctors who can act in the role of SMP, some forces now find they have contracted people who are so useless as to not even be capable of perverting the Regulations convincingly.

The PNB guidance states that in order to perform the role of a SMP a doctor must be competently trained to effectively assess a police officer’s medical condition and disability. However the role of the SMP also requires them to understanding the complex regulations and case law and make arbitrations on evidence. These requirements lie outside the normal skill set of a professional clinician and are more associated with the role of a legal professional. – paragraph 15.4

Again the College is seeking to excuse the poor administration of Injury Awards by repeatedly proclaiming that the Regulations are complex – conveniently forgetting that it is those who administer the Regulations who have forced the wealth of case law into existence as a result of their inability to do things right.

Any competent holder of a medical degree will take huge offence at the College’s assertion that making decisions based on arbitrations of evidence is beyond their skill-set. Given the regulatory demands of any aspect of the medical profession such understanding is surely a core skill.

To date there are limited training opportunities available and no centrally accredited SMP qualification. Individual SMPs are therefore reliant on their experience of the work, personal endeavour and any ad hoc training they have been given by their employers. – paragraph 15.5

The Regulations in their current form have been in existence since 1987. Almost 30 years have passed and the College brazenly declares that there is still no gold-standard to measure the competency of a SMP.

Again the College conveniently forgets that the current chaos of poor and shady SMPs had its birth in Home Office circular 46/2004 which contained guidance from the Home Office which was an unlawful carte blanche attack on the Regulations. It took a courageous IOD pensioner to drag the Home Office to the very door of the High Court before the Home Office caved in and accepted the guidance was unlawful and agreed to withdraw it.

The guidance has been erased but the perversions of the Regulations continue, with some forces inventing ever more complex ways of manipulation so as to produce decisions which reduce the amount of pension paid.

It is no wonder that even decent SMPs are hopelessly confused or find their genuine efforts to apply the Regulations properly are frustrated.

The review has found little to no evidence of the private companies who are contracted by forces to provide both occupational health provisions and SMPs providing formal training for SMPs. Furthermore it is questionable whether consideration of training was included in tendering when obtaining SMPs through occupational health companies. – paragraph 15.9

Even the business school mantra of, ‘If in doubt outsource it’ is called into question by the College. By hiring a company to provide a SMP a police pension authority will lose any in-house experience but at least they can blame a private company when it all goes wrong. Or not. The private companies become bigger and bigger and as they do so they become less fit for purpose. The College fails to address why all this public money is given to occupational health companies who fail to evidence competency in the tendering process.

So, where is all this going? What actually lays behind the Home Office encouraging the College to make its enquiry? Why is the Home Office apparently content so see exposed so many failures by forces, their HR departments and SMPs?

Bear in mind when pondering this apparent own goal that the College is an arm’s length body of the Home Office. The College is the Home Office.

The report contains a blatant clue as to what the Home Office hopes to achieve. It raises the spectre of complaints against SMPs and it puts forward the suggestion that, when performing their roles under the Regulations, SMPs should have immunity from GMC standards.

It is noted that in separate correspondence to the Home Office representations have been made to suggest judicial exclusion for the role of the SMP. Furthermore legal opinion obtained as part of this review suggests that a medical authority appointed under the Regulations may be covered by the doctrine of
judicial privilege.- paragraph 19.2

Who made these ‘representations’ and what motivated them being made? It is an astounding suggestion – that doctors which the Regulations require do nothing more complicated or demanding than make independent medical assessments and decisions should need to be elevated to the status of a Crown Court Judge.

This immunity is contrary to the guidance of the GMC who state …


The first duty of a doctor registered with the GMC is to
make the care of their patient their first concern. The
term ‘patient’ in this guidance also refers to employees,
clients, athletes and anyone else whose personal
information you hold or have access to, whether or not
you care for them in a traditional therapeutic
relationship. – Section 2

A SMP is always a medical doctor first and therefore is answerable to the GMC. Under the Regulations their role is primarily medical in nature and purpose. A SMP must comply with the Regulations. Yes, decisions a SMP makes form part of a quasi-judicial process, but the College is in error when it suggests the SMP should become a judicial figure, for that element and responsibility is already present and rests with the office of police pension authority.

The report is nothing more that a sham. It is not the independent, impartial, academically rigorous enquiry it purports to be. As a dissertation it would be torn apart, for its entire purpose is to provide support for an idea. It is an exercise in propaganda.

Appendix D of the report contains the ugly truth of the Home Office’s purpose. The Home Office likes appendices. It was appendix C to Home Office circular 46/2004 which tried to encourage forces to act unlawfully. Here we have yet another appendix intent on much the same objective.

Appendix D offers a vision of a future arrangement when Regional Centres manage all aspects of the administration of injury awards. Forces, and SMPs, will completely lose the independence of thought and action which the Regulations are intended to ensure. The Home Office will have recreated the infamous Volksgerichtshof, the ‘people’s courts’ of the Third Reich, which were intended to provide that regime with an apparently lawful way of side-stepping the inconvenience of an independent judiciary.

Various benefits to such an arrangement are touted, but the plain truth is that if regional centres are created then they will be controlled entirely by the Home Office, no doubt through another shell company – sorry, an arm’s length body – which will ensure that all doctors hired as SMPs are compliant, corrupt and whose purpose will be to subvert the Regulations to the very great detriment of the brave men and women who were disabled in the line of duty.


A Suitable Interval is not Random

A Suitable Interval is not Random

“Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.”
John von Neumann

It seems Avon & Somerset Human Remains Department just can not help themselves.  To select further IODs for review they are going to use a random number generator.

This is a quote from local NARPO’s report on the IOD Liaison Group Meeting 17th December 2015

8 more claimants have been chosen using an EXCEL random picker programme and letters should be sent out in January 2016 asking for them to engage in the process. If you receive such a letter and are a member of NARPO Bristol Branch, we would like to know, please contact me through […] the branch secretary. If you require it we can offer advice or assistance with the process.

Let’s ignore the unsavoury and nonfactual word ‘claimants‘ used to describe those with an injury on duty award  for a minute and focus on the words ‘random picker’.

No. It’s  not ‘Lancelot’, the mechanical soupedup tombola that the National Lottery uses, but a computer program.  A computer program cobbled together in a Heath Robinson manner using Microsoft Excel.

Does anyone spot the major flaw here?

Is their mistake that the numbers generated by Excel are not truly random, but pseudo-random?  This is the output of program code that churns out numbers that appear to be random. Excel RAND’s output is only  a simulation of a truly random process. Chance can not be programmed.  That is why lottery providers use gravity pick or air mix mechanical machines. These 2 machine types have  things in common.  They are designed and proven using statistical analysis to produce random combinations of numbers.

Nope.  Although correct, the above isn’t their ‘pig in the poke‘.  They fail to grasp the  mistake magnitude of their cunning ‘brainwave’.

The elephant in the room is that a suitable interval is not and can never be random.  The Scoffield report dictates:

There should be a move away from automatic review for all cases at any fixed interval set in policy

A truly random selection would mean it is possible for a single former officer to reviewed consecutively.    As Murphy’s Law wisely says, what-ever can happen will happen if there is enough trials.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps this supposed ‘random selection’ performed  by A&S means that they have determined that everyone should be automatically reviewed and they are just randomising the order.

That doesn’t fit in with the interpretation of the Regulations either.  An eminent Queen’s Counsel has determined an automatic review for all cases is not appropriate and reviewing everyone ‘randomly’ is just that – an automatic review based on ‘policy’.

A selection of any IOD for any review has to be made based on the individual.  Some should never be reviewed.  Time itself is not the determiner of a suitable interval – the circumstances of the individual  and the detail recorded on the last final decision determines whether any interval is suitable.

But A&S has to wrongly rely on Excel and their fallacy of random selection because they have lost occupational health records and they can not read the handwriting of the doctor notes made in the records they do have.  So they are unable to determine a true suitable interval. That is their problem – their faults should not and can not be passed on to a former officer.

IODPA will look forward to reading the future judicial review transcript where it is mentioned that the plaintiff was selected by a computer program and not on the medical merits on whether it was suitable to review.

Any letter sent by A&S to any individual has to be answered with a curt:

“Why me? Why Now?”.

If the answer from them is because ‘our Excel workbook’ says you’ve won the review lottery, then you can laugh your way to legal representation.

On a side note – IODPA wonders about the Data Protection Act and the use of names in a tool designed for pseudo-random selection.  Perhaps Subject Access Requests should be made to determine if a person’s name exists on their list.

This DPA principle seems to suggest it is not right to use personal data in a list to unlawfully select someone for the wrong reason:

Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.