A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.”
Another definition of a hypocrite is someone who uses PowerPoint slides to say one thing to others although they value and believe something else entirely.
Recently Dr Ralph Sampson and Stephen Mitchel of Nottinghamshire Police (Notts) gave a presentation (perhaps using PowerPoint – other presentation software is available) at a National Attendance Management Forum conference (NAMF) to fellow NAMF delegates.
They were talking about how they do things in Notts. The bad news for them is the former officers reviewed by them inform us that, not only are they confused about their statutory duty, they are selective in their own rules and advice. Notwithstanding the rules used in Notts by Sampson and Mitchel, those that they wax lyrically to the NAMF audience, are predominantly worthless.
The presentation concerned how Notts are reviewing those former officers they have medically retired and awarded Injury Awards. We have obtained the slides for the presentation and have put it out into the public domain. The talk given by Sampson & Mitchel sets out their intention to conduct reviews because of concerns over their obligated cost of paying the awards until the former officer expires at an average of 83 years of age. It also says that reviews are intended to assess degree of disablement. Both premises are wrong.
Constant readers of these pages will not be surprised to hear the conflict of interest of having Dr Sampson as not only the reviewing SMP, but also as concerned with cost savings as his Notts paymasters. Notts-IOD-Presentation.pdfNotts-IOD-Presentation
*click image & use arrows to view all pages
There are 17 pages to the presentation so we intend to spread the talk about the slides over a couple of blog posts. But before will delve into the first few slides, let’s have a quick look at the words used by Sampson & Mitchel.
As expected with a NAMF presentation where the audience are eager to hear ways to reduce their financial commitments, ‘salary‘ is one of the most frequent words in the presentation. This table shows the 6 words most prevalent:
|Word frequency count||6||6||7||8||10||10|
The frequent use of ‘salary’ just shows what their real agenda is.
We can’t find fault with slide one. It just contains the title of the presentation. [edit: A reader has found fault. The use of ‘reassessment’ (unlawful) in lieu of the correct term ‘review’ is indicative of a Freudian slip – thank you Whendie]
Slide two starts with the ‘background’ and mentions ‘earnings’.
- Reg 37(1) of Police (lnjury Benefit) Regulations 2006 Forces can undertake a review “at such intervals as may be suitable, to consider whether degree of …disablement has altered”
- SMP to make a determination if/ how much earnings capacity has been affected
Band 1 (<25%)
Band 2 (25% – 50%)
Band 3 (50% to 75%)
Band 4 (>75%)
- Minimum = Band 1
The red highlighted text shows that either Sampson is ignorant of the Laws case (unlikely) or he is intentionally willing to review former officers contrary to it’s judgements. They fail to explain how it is beyond all improbability that the interval is suitable to all the people they intend to review by pure chance alone.
‘Earnings’ is a word synonymous with salary and has no place in a review. Use of salary as the only measure is a failure to follow the judgement of Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and can only amount to an unlawful reassessment where a former police officer could find his injury pension being reduced because of a difference of medical opinion on his capability for work rather than there being any real alteration in the officer’s degree of disablement. Sampson can not just ‘assess’ the degree of disablement.
The finding of Laws is that the SMP (or board) is not allowed to consider the pensioner’s current degree of disablement and then compare it with the previous assessment. The duty – the only duty – is to decide whether, since then, there has been a substantially altered change.
The right question for the SMP is not “what jobs can this person do today” but the comparative exercise of “has the impact of the index injury on the jobs she/he can do today substantially changed from the position at the last review date”.
The Laws judgement was reaffirmed in the case of Simpson. The conclusion in Simpson is clear. There can be no new consideration of notional earning capacity (i.e. what the officer would have been capable of earning but for his injury) unless and until there has been a substantial alteration in his physical condition or his present job opportunities, that is to say that something has actually changed since the last review, other than the mere passage of time.
But this isn’t what the NAMF delegates want to hear so Sampson & Mitchel play to the desires of their captivated audience.
3.Numbers / cost
- 380 + pensioners in receipt of an IOD award
- £3.36 million per year
- No programme of review for significant period of time, therefore no up to date medical information to ensure pension payments more accurately reflected up to date individual circumstances and ensure public money being spent wisely.
- Notts Force Executive Board decision to commence programme of review – all Bands included; age under 70 for this programme of review
Slide three mentions the annual spend on injury awards (just to emphasis their mission to reduce this figure). The point of ‘not having a reviewing program for a significant amount of time‘ is a non-sequitur. A decision not to review is as much an exercise of a discretional power as a decision to review. Notts admit that they had consciously chosen not to review, and now they have changed their mind. Not knowing the individual circumstances of any given former officer is down to them and them alone. Never do these people think that once someone leaves the police service, they want to live their private life without the constant forensic examination and prying into their personal matters by their former force. Not having a review program is no reason to justify a new programme – quite the opposite.
Not performing any reviews gives a legitimate expectation that is based on the principles of natural justice and fairness, a maxim that seeks to prevent authorities from abusing power. A substantive legitimate expectation arises where an authority makes a lawful representation that an individual will receive or continue to receive some kind of expectation that they will be not have to undergo the trauma of a force reviewing them. Not reviewing is as much a lawful representation as reviewing itself.
The last bullet point on slide 3 is revealing. It was the force executive board that decided to start a review program, not the police pension authority. In other words finance officers, estate directors and HR directors all decided it was a good idea. The police pension authority is not a committee – it is the Chief Constable wearing a different hat.
- Letter sent to eligible pensioners Dec 2013 advising that a programme would commence
- Tendering process for SMP (OJEU – with Derbyshire and Leicestershire) – SMP appointment Spring 2014
- Process – Liaised with Federation; NARPO;
Regional Legal Services
- Retained HR Admin support identified
- No Regional OHU involvement
Slide four talks about who Notts have liaised with. It also mentions that there has been no regional occupation health unit involvement. Could this be because they have destroyed all the occupational information data they have and are reviewing people ‘blind’? They have apparently briefed local NARPO as well as the local Federation. This is mentioned in the slide as if such an action provides their review program with legitimacy. There is no mention of how the liaison progressed or whether any objections were raised.
- Sequence of review – eligible former officers who saw SMP furthest ago
- Batches of 15 – approx six weekly intervals
Former officer sent (1) GP consent ; (2) OHU file consent; (3)questionnaire to complete
- Letters – 3 stages – 28 days /14 days / 7 days
Following receipt of consent form, GP records requested
- With completed paper/work, SMP undertakes ‘paper review” to make a determination if there has been potential ‘substantial alteration’ since assessment / last review
- If no substantial alteration – end of process
lf substantial alteration indicated – former officer requested to attend meeting with SMP
- Following assessment, SMP produces report and officer has 28 days to indicate whether they contest findings
Slide five exposes the process. The bullet points allude to substantial change but here is where the hypocrisy lies. There is no mention of change to the medical condition. It is about salary and nothing else.
Note that Notts expect the whole procedure for the 3 stages to be completed in 49 days! Notts also wants full medical records as well the notorious questionnaire to inaccurately condense decades of life into unrepresentative bite-sized chunks. The true agenda here is to examine the smallest details: a minute examination to enable apportionment and to revisit the original decision.
How can a questionnaire determine the existence of substantial change when there is no previous questionnaire, completed back-in-the-day, that can be used as a base line? The closed questioning leads to answers being interpreted in such a way that you can accomplish much more on the good days than on the bad days, the HR functionary will ignore any detail concerning your bad days and focus ONLY on what you can achieve on a good day.
Be in no doubt that the SMP will not be the one to perform this paper shift. An health professional is too expensive to contemplate and slide four stated that regional occupational health units will not be involved. Using a SMP at this stage will cost at least £500 per person if a competent preliminary valuation of the former officer’s condition is conducted. It is ludicrous to insinuate that for 380 former officers they will spend £190,000 just to consider whether there has been substantial change before they call the person to attend a face to face assessment with the SMP.
Mass reviews, blanket reviews, wholesale review programmes; they are all names for the same thing – always an attempt to reduce, never to increase an award. They are a conveyor belt with a predetermined agenda. For the former officer it is equivalent to entering a Mafia controlled casino where the dice man, pit boss and croupier all have complete control over the outcome. The review casino is selling an illusion that they are paying due regard to the medical condition correctly and that they are abiding by the Regulations.
That’s it for part one. Part two will follow in the next couple of weeks.