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.






A Suitable Interval is not Random

5 thoughts on “A Suitable Interval is not Random

  • 2016-01-30 at 10:03 am

    I was not a member of Avon and Somerset I am pleased to say. That is not a comment against the rank and file officers but against the management of this Force who never cease to amaze me. I thought my Force were bad but A&S have lost the plot. I would agree with the previous comment that a Judicial Review is required to shake them up and bring them to their senses. They seem hell bent on screwing up the lives of people who have been injured doing their jobs. If I was a serving A&S officer I would have serious concerns about how I would be treated by this lot if I was to be injured and incapable of continuing my career. How do they expect to attract and retain people if they treat their most valuable assets in this manner.

  • 2016-01-05 at 11:31 am

    An excellent expose and critique of yet another display of sublime ignorance of the Regulations on the part of a police force.

    The buffoon who came up with the idea to select individual IOD pensioners randomly for review completely misses the point of the Regulations containing a provision for review.

    The stated intention of the force in question is to review all injury pensions. That is itself unlawful. The police pension authority has an over-riding duty to do nothing which frustrates or compromises the scope and purpose of the Regulations. The provision for occasional review is in the Regulations to allow an injury pension to be revised when it is apparent there has been a substantial alteration in degree of disablement. The review provision does not encompass fishing expeditions where people are hauled in to be abused by a bottom-feeding occupational health incompetent who has managed to retain his licence to practice as a medical doctor by sheer luck. (Sir, you are a disgrace to the medical profession for being a willing participant in a process you must by now know is unlawful. Shame on you.)

    In other words, a review can only be held when there is some good reason to do so. The police pension authority has a power of discretion over whether, or when, to hold a review. It must therefore exercise that power of discretion correctly, which means that it must go through a process of looking at the relevant circumstances of an individual, and deciding in that individual’s case, whether it is appropriate to go further and have a ‘duly qualified medical practitioner’ assess whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement.

    Selecting people for review randomly is the very antithesis of informed, reasoned, selection. It kills any claim that that this force is approaching the so-called ‘duty to review’ in a way which accords with the scope and purpose of the Regulations.

    It is as unfair, and as unlawful, to select people using an Excel function as it would be by selecting according to age, degree of disablement, alphabetically, or any other method.
    I hope that the above-mentioned buffoon, or the Chief Constable (assuming these are two different people) will see this post and understand that any review held when the individual is selected by means of any random process will be an unlawful review and can be successfully challenged.
    I also hope that the above-mentioned buffoon will also see the light and gain an understanding that there is no general duty to review and that no individual can be assessed by the SMP unless there is some good, relevant, reason to believe there has been a SUBSTANTIAL alteration in degree of disablement.

    This police pension authority is presiding over a complete waste of public money. The fact is, the vast majority of reviews, in all forces, over the last ten years, resulted in decisions that there had been no alteration in degree of disablement. If this force wants to to identify the few individuals whose degree of disablement may have substantially worsened or improved, then the best, and only lawful way, to proceed, is to write a polite, respectful letter to all IOD pensioners and ask them the question.

    Chief Constable, you are guilty of cruelty and mistreatment of honourable men and women who have served their communities, and the law, and who have paid a terrible price. You are also guilty of allowing yourself to be fooled by the lunatics who initiated and now try forlornly to defend this mass review process. That casts doubts on your character and on your competence.

  • 2016-01-05 at 9:51 am

    It’s about time Avon and Somerset were subject of Judicial Review which I’m sure they will be.

    Hopefully once this occurs it will shake up the whole process and make it more transparent, less clandestine and applied according to how the regulations were written, not how some corrupt SMP, HR Manager or PMAB chooses to twist and apply them!

  • 2016-01-04 at 9:27 pm

    For a start, I cannot ignore the term “claimant”. I am not and have never been a claimant. I was awarded an injury on duty pension after exhaustive medicals conducted by the Chief Medical Officer of the Force I served. I was seriously injured while arresting three suspects after a call for urgent assistance. The injury resulted in me being seriously disabled for life. I have to take multiple painkillers daily. I was judged by the CMO to be unable to work for the rest of my life. At the time of my injury I was 30 years old!

    Now, as regards this random number picker. The Police regulations were drawn up at length by many learned people and have served the majority of officers well if they are abided by. There is a very strict discipline code if an officer does not follow these regulations.

    Now how is it that the human resource departments, who are supposed to follow the same regulations and the senior officers who oversee them, quite clearly have no intention of following them.

    It seems these people want to inflict as much hurt, ill will and stress on vulnerable injured ex police officers as possible. There is no excuse, no reason. These are police officers who did their duty trying to protect their fellow citizens and who suffered horrific physical and mental injuries as a consequence.

    The overwhelming number of disabled officers do not mind having their disabilities medically reviewed as long as it is carried out fairly and according to the regulations.

    • 2016-01-05 at 6:56 am

      Thanks very much for the comprehensive comment Slowhand

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