Month: October 2016

I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake

A new Ken Loach, Palme d’Or winning, film  stars actor Dave Johns who plays Daniel Blake, a 59 year old carpenter who finds himself unable to work in the aftermath of a heart attack.  1984 meets uncaring, capitalist Catch-22

Having suffered a heart attack at work, Daniel has been instructed by doctors to rest. Yet since he is able to walk 50 metres and “raise either arm as if to put something in your top pocket”, he is deemed ineligible for employment and support allowance, scoring a meaningless 12 points rather than the requisite 15.

Constant employment for forty years means nothing as he has to navigate his way through the Kafkaesque impersonal benefits system.

The similarity to a SMP ‘assessment’ is stark.  We don’t want to say Daniel Blake’s plight is exactly synonymous with those with, or applying for, an injury award – whether being reviewed or not.  The juxtaposition is the base medical pension is always there … there are exceptions, but those medically retired from the police usually aren’t users of food banks.

What is the same is the  cruel system that pushes those caught up in its cogs to breaking point.

The real Daniel Blakes …

 

Pawns in a Chess Game

Pawns in a Chess Game

“I like the moment when I break a man’s ego”
Bobby Fischer

It’s often said that chess is a metaphor for life.  There is an Italian proverb that says ‘At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box’. Chess mirrors life; no matter how lofty or lowly our position as pieces in the game of life, no matter which side we were on, when we are done with the ‘game,’ we all go into the same box.

It seems in the police service there have always been self-aggrandising Panjandrums of senior rank (both uniform and civilian) who seem to be without conventional morality.  They spend their lives in seeking to gain power over others through manipulation and bluster.  The sometimes try to justify their inhumane treatment of their fellow beings under the guise of less than legitimate ‘personnel management’.

They certainly never for a minute think they will all end up in the same box, their energies dissipated as they return to their basic inert elements. Perhaps if they did think more of their inevitable end, they might be more careful in selecting the means by which they direct their path through life. Perhaps their decisions or lack of decisions wouldn’t have such profound and injurious consequences.

Rather than seeing an injured or ill police officer as a person, they see a problem; and they want that problem gone or forgotten without the hassle of finding a redeployment path.  All the better if central government will pick up the tab or, the modern day equivalent, the individual is pushed to resign or is made a victim of a capability dismissal.

We at IODPA understand all too well what happens when people are cast aside, careers ended and lives destroyed.  We are also aware of the difficulties currently serving and injured officers face in gaining their right to ill-health retirement.

Why has there been such a tempestuous imbalance with ill-heath retirements?  Power games by cruel and harsh senior managers have always happened: instead of the pawn being thrown in the bin and replaced with a shiny new eager one, nowadays the pawn, held together with gaffer tape and super-glue, is forced to remain on the chequered square until they keel over and expire.

When you have been medically retired from the police service you start to see some things differently.  Not only is there the obvious suffering with the injury but there is the self-doubt and the readjustment needed to rebuild your identity.  Some people fail to make that transition and carry with them for the rest of their lives that they have somehow failed. The truth is that they have not failed, but that they have been failed by those in authority.

In our work-obsessed society, it’s hard to imagine anything worse than losing your career – amplified when that police career is your life. Yet people coming to terms with this also have to go through a series of legal and medical hoops to get any financial recompense. It’s time-consuming, stressful and undignified.

These struggles have progressively become worse over the years.

The 2011 police pay and conditions reviews conducted by Sir Tom Winsor identified that although the National Policing Plan for 2003-2006 required a reduction in the number of officers being retired through ill health grounds, the target previously set by the Government Actuaries Department was still at 6.5 retirements per 1000 officers.

However, Winsor’s research revealed that forces were only retiring officers on ill health grounds at a rate of 2.2 retirements per 1000 officers, significantly less than the recommended level.

It seems that all police services in the UK are playing fast and loose with peoples’ lives.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report in 2014 that looked into the differences in ill-health retirement across forces and found a strong correlation to both area-specific stresses of policing and force-specific human resource policies.

You can view the report here .   http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/wp1306.pdf

It’s a bit heavy on statistical modelling and forecasting but we’ve done the hard work and extracted the choice nuggets.  The report shows there has been a Machiavellian approach in the administration of ill-health retirements and therefore injury awards.

The decisions of granting awards mirror the corruption regularly occurring in review processes. Human resource directors have jumped from one extreme to another: first using injury awards as a mechanism to solve their manpower problems at the expense of the injured officer (by immediately replacing them) and then more recently keeping injured officers in purgatory by not medically retiring the individual.

So since the National Policing plan, what changes occurred to Police Injury Benefit Regulations?

None.  The only difference is how serving officers are nowadays on the capability dismissal roller-coaster and this, according to the IFS, can be squarely blamed on the Home Office enforced removal of central funding.

The IFS state,

However local authorities had considerable discretion, within some rather broad government guidelines, as to how they managed ill-health retirement. Hence, given this discretion, local authorities had an incentive within the financing mechanism to utilise ill-health retirement as a vehicle for removing lower quality officers (for example, those with lower fitness or general aptitude and commitment) from their workforce, wholly at the expense of national government

Previously serving officers were used as pawns in a horrific game of chess.  The sense of self-esteem, loves, needs and welfare of the individuals concerned were all dispensed with on the grounds of efficiency. The IFS state in cold realism that medical retirement was just a ‘vehicle’ from removing disabled officers from the workforce.

Enforced medical retirement can easily break an already vulnerable person, damaged by illness or injury, for to hear that the decision was taken as it suited the bean-counters is a bitter pill to swallow.

The authors of the IFS report call it an ‘incentive‘. Greed was the motivation behind the brutish push the force gave you out the door that caused you to land face down in the dust whilst the door slammed shut –  it wasn’t the physical or mental injury or God forbid both, that you have to suffer for the rest of your life, that led to your ill-health retirement.  It was the avarice of your superiors.

The IFS report continues,

For police officers, the incentive to utilise ill-health retirement as a workforce management tool was exacerbated by the unique peculiarity of the police officer‟s terms of employment, under which a police officer cannot be made redundant before the first age at which he or she could normally retire (i.e. age 50).

It should be noted, however, that high rates of ill-health retirement we also observed in the late 1990s among other groups such as firefighters and ambulance crews even though such workforces had conventional employment contracts

Troubling that all this was non-regulatory.  The police injury benefit and ill health retirement Regulations remained exactly the same.  Just like the Home Office guidance 46/2004 which poisoned reviews of degree of disablement, central guidance enforced instructions upon already incompetent administrators of the police Regulations – instructions that ran contrary to the Regulations themselves.

The IFS is missing an important point in this excerpt,

This discrepancy between the incidence of perceived local benefits and national costs arising from discretionary retirement was noted by central government and in 2006, among a plethora of reforms to the police pension plan, a cost-sharing policy was introduced by which part of the cost of ill-health retirement would be borne by the local employer.

Central government, instead of changing the legislation, changed the way extant legislation was implemented.  Of two hypothetical permanently injured police officers with the same disability, both facing ill-health retirement in 2006, one may have found themselves medically retired and the other denied the same route to recovery, just because they were separated by a matter of months pre and post the cost-sharing policy.

When an officer is permanently disabled from performing the full duties of a police constable then they are eligible to be medically retired.  Of course there is some discretion available to the chief constable regarding retention but the IFS neglects to mention that this is mutual discretion – agreed by the officer themselves and the police force.  In reality the option is rarely given to the injured officer.  They are abandoned on long term sick leave with no occupational health support, no welfare checks and no return and reintegration policy.

Interestingly this comment by the IFS seems to mention that weak enforcement of medical claims contributes to the high level of the retirements in the 1990.

Police forces have also been characterised by high levels of early retirement on grounds of ill-health, especially in the late 1990s when medical retirements were averaging almost half of all retirement across police forces (HM Treasury, 2000).9 Ill-health retirement rates across forces varied from less than 20% of all retirements to over 75% in the same period; the high rates being seen as arising from a combination of generous enhancement provisions (ibid, Tables 1 and 2) and weak enforcement and monitoring of medical claims by individual police forces (Poole, 1997).

Of course when the force is using medical retirement as a ‘vehicle’ for removing officers who can’t be fully deployed the argument is that this isn’t ‘weak enforcement’ of the correct processes.

Implying a lack of energy is a careless use of words by IFS as it masks the actual powerful and keen enthusiasm the administrators of ill-health retirement go to in order to get exactly want they want. What really happened, and is happening, instead shows an institutional and deliberate reluctance to invest in welfare and a mindset that is all too willing to abandon those whose health is destroyed by doing the job.

The Regulations are quite specific in saying that disablement is an inability to perform all the duties of a police constable.  The IFS agrees,

The criterion for ill-health retirement among police officers therefore stresses the officer‟s inability to perform “operational duties” – that is, limits on his or her potential full deployability such as in major public order situations and other physically and mentally stressful situations. This is a weaker criterion of “disability” than in most public social insurance settings where “disability” would be defined by reference to incapacity in any employment or to a specific set of disabling health conditions. In the context of police officers, this definition relating to “full deployability” links back to the supposed omnicompetence associated with the “Office of Constable”. Consequently, many police officers who were unable to fulfil specific duties obtained full ill-health retirement even though they were perfectly capable of engaging in restricted activities.

And then the IFS comes across the deliberate gamesmanship played by senior personnel directors who accelerate a life-changing decision upon an individual, purely based on the landmark of service and not on a balanced and unbiased view of the presented merits or demerits of the individual’s circumstances or condition.

There are distinct “spikes” in awards at those years of service at which the rate of enhancement increases, such as after 10 and 13 years‟ service. This suggests that financial incentives, as well as medical issues, played a major part in the process. Consequently, after the mid-2000s, efforts were made to implement standardised “best practice” medical assessment procedures across forces.

It is a sad fact that any serving officer who is facing enforced retirement due to long-term ill health or injury will be entered into a lottery. Some forces will handle the process fairly and with compassion. Other forces will see a problem with nothing more than a financial shape and will act accordingly. They will do whatever they think they can get away with to minimise or even avoid entirely, the cost of dispensing with a damaged officer.

IODPA, with its wealth of first-hand experience of the ways that corrupt, incompetent, uncaring or just plain ignorant HR managers and their unthinking, unchallenging underlings have visited gross harm on disabled former officers, now sees the picture changing.

The focus is shifting from being only former officers on injury pensions to include serving officers who have the misfortune to become long-term ill or are injured to the extent where they can no longer perform the ordinary range of duties required of a police officer.

Injury on duty pensioners have learned how to defend themselves from attacks made by biased ‘give me the money’ SMPs and ruthless HR managers. We are no longer the soft target we were disdainfully thought to be.

We share one vital circumstance, which is that we ceased to be subject to the often ill applied and misused whip of senior managers when we ceased being subjected to the threat of discipline proceedings.

We may be injured, but we are free.

Free to challenge and confront wherever we suffer maladministration. Free to prick the bubble of self-important buffoons who have no knowledge of the Regulations, yet who are ever ready to spout spurious justifications for their actions. Free to speak the truth without fear.

When finance directors see the outgoings paid out to cover injury awards, the entitlement of such defined in statute as being final once made, as a tempting object to this impecunious ruler of an impoverished police force and we are officiously notified that they believe their lack of money gives them enough reason to review of our degree of disablement now – when it suits them – we are free to remember exactly how history repeats itself given the force used financial incentives to discard once disability overcame us.

Serving officers are now seen as the soft target. How long before they too take a stand against the abuses which appearing in the ill health retirement process?

Contrasting Medical Reports

Contrasting Medical Reports

Are you sure the report, the one the selected medical practitioner disclosed to you about your  permanent disablement and degree of disability, is the only report in existence?

Could there be another report out in the wild? Did the force actually receive the ‘true’ copy?

Maybe this second report was never intended for your eyes to see.   This hidden report is how the Human Resources director dreamt it to be.    Flawed, corrupted, damaged by the fevers, intoxication, hate and unforgiveness of it’s SMP author.  The report you never get to read tells the story of what the doctor truly thinks about your medical condition – how little your earning capacity is affected; how he doubts your symptoms.

Such deviousness has a precedent.  In July 2016 The High Court granted insurance company LV= permission to bring committal proceedings against solicitors from a defunct law firm after two contrasting medical reports emerged in a road traffic case they were handling.

Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith, sitting as a High Court judge,described the differences between the two reports – one served on the insurer and the other included in the trial bundle – as “stark”.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2016/2590.html

  1. The contrast between the two reports is stark. In the report disclosed with the claim, Mr Iqbal had suffered whiplash injuries to the neck and to the wrist, with a 6-8 month recovery period; whereas the report included in the bundle sets out that Mr Iqbal had mild pain and stiffness on the day of the accident but the symptoms, due to a whiplash injury, resolved 1 week from the date of the accident. The diagnosis of a whiplash injury to the wrist does not even make sense.

How does this relate to Police Injury Awards you may well ask?

These minutes from a Thames Valley Federation meeting suggest not only does this practice happen to retired police officers, but a senior HR manager recently resigned because his involvement in this intentionally and consciously performed misdeed was found out.

ibb-draft-minutes-010816

On page four there’s this quote:

IHR’s
It remains challenging to secure IHR’s as officers are increasingly asked to explore alternative treatment options. It has come to light that in some cases and at the instruction of the force legal team, that some officers seeking IHR but who have active or potential legal claims against the force, are having detailed capability reports prepared by the SMP, withheld. The force through the CHSS* have indicated that this practice has only been adopted in the last half a dozen cases. The CHSS has provided the full reports upon written request by officers. Haven Solicitors are coordinating the investigation into this practice and JW has made PFEW aware of this practice through the National General Secretary and Martyn Mordecai. Chris Sharp has resigned his position as CHSS, in part on the back of this nonregulatory practice. He will leave us in October.

[*Head of Corporate Health & Support Services]

So just like the contrasting medical reports in the 2016 LV= case,  Chris Sharp the Head of Corporate Health and Pensions Manager at Thames Valley police seemingly commissioned and then withheld capability reports, resplendent in greater sensitive medical detail than the ‘other’ report, from the former officers.  This was performed with the blessing of the force’s legal services department.

And he has resigned as a consequence.

If this is true then the SMP and Thames Valley may have fallen foul of countless pieces of legislation from the Data Protection act to the Access to Medical Reports Act.

In the LV= court case Counsel was perturbed by the existence of two reports.  Counsel was clearly concerned that there was a deliberate alteration of the report to put forward a stronger case for damages.

In The Police Injury Benefit Regulations the qualified medical authority is asked to provide ‘A’ report.  Not two.  Not a ‘certificate’  A Report.  Singular.

Is it the case that Thames Valley has been using the existence of two reports to ‘put forward’ (read bias) the case to reduce the award banding?  And by not disclosing the report benefiting by handicapping any future appeal?

No, surely not…  it surely can’t be that the administration of injury awards is that rife with corruption!  (ahem)

 

The ICE… is gonna BREAK!

The ICE… is gonna BREAK!

“He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human


The ultimate temperature test of a Police Pension Authority’s malevolence towards injury awards is how they consider what is a self-created paradox of the ‘band one issue’.

The end game of some Police Pension Authorities is to achieve reduction of all injury pension payments by means of unlawful reviews. But what to do with those who can’t be reduced further? What to do with disabled former officers who are on band one, the lowest band of payment?

Band one presents them with a conundrum. Their thoughts run like this. Reviewing band one pensions might open a box of worms. Should we review them? If we do, then we can’t reduce them, so it would be a waste of time and money, but some of them might well qualify for an increase in payment, which would cost us money. We might also uncover a lot of historical maladministration and face endless complaints, appeals and litigation, which would also cost us money. If we don’t review them, then we leave ourselves open to accusations of disablement discrimination. We can hardly claim we have a duty to review if we then decide not to review band ones.

For so long as these rogue police pension authorities try to justify the contradiction that it’s ‘not all about savings’ whilst holding reviews which so very obviously are for the sole purpose of attempting to save money, they will find it harder to maintain their stance indefinitely and, meanwhile the ice they skate on is getting thinner and thinner.

Staffordshire Police, for example, have a tendency to use dubious practices when an injury award is first decided, such as using their arcane Police Earning Assessment Matrix, to bias the calculation of the degree of disablement heavily so as to only produce disablement levels within band one.

Other police forces such as Merseyside and Nottinghamshire go out of their way to review those in receipt of a band two award and above, so regularly and unlawfully that it just becomes a matter of time until the medical retirement officer civilian or the ‘gun for hire’ SMP succeeds in reducing the award to levels acceptable to the force accountants, but unacceptable and unlawful in respect to legislation.

Merseyside clearly implied in their answer to a freedom of information request that people with injury awards can only ever improve, never deteriorate.  In any case, it seems Merseyside is of the opinion that if the people they medically retire do deteriorate they can’t be bothered to find out.  Action by a public authority cannot be lawful unless there is a positive power that falls within legal restrictions and discharges lawful duties.  Cherry-picking how and when to impose a power isn’t any of these things.

Band 1 will not be reviewed unless requested by the former officer and in that case they would be seen as a priority.

response-table-dj-092-14

“Seen as a priority” can be interpreted as getting a quick phone call back from Merseyside, from a panicky medical retirement officer, who is intent on convincing the vulnerable that it’s futile to attempt to justify an increase to an award.

Then there are forces like Cambridgeshire, who zealously carried out the unlawful Home Circular 46/2004 whilst deceitfully telling those it affected that it was never about the money, when, in reality, it was always all about the money. Cambridgeshire spent a small fortune of taxpayers’ money in pursuit of illusive savings only to find they were on a fool’s errand. In 2010, Cambridgeshire suspended all reviews. Then in 2012 produced a new policy which limited the number of reviews. Recently there has been a decision to suspend their so-called ‘proactive’ review program. A report to Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Force Executive Board by the new Director of Human Resources, who runs the recently-formed tripartite Beds/Cambs/Herts HR function, recommends,

‘That in the absence of current national guidance on Injury Award Reviews and the diminishing likelihood of accruing further savings, the current proactive review process be suspended. Recipients will still be able to request reviews where, for example, they believe that there has been a significant change in their degree of disablement, relative to the relevant injury.’

And –

‘The process of carrying out first reviews has generated some savings through the reduction in bandings of allowance for some recipients. However, experience shows that any further reductions in bandings is less likely as a result of second and further reviews.’

Ooops! A bit of a slip there. Do we hear the ominous crack of breaking ice? An admission by Cambs that the driving force behind reviews has always been to achieve savings. No mention of the true intent of the provision of a review process in the Regulations, which is to ensure that disabled former officers continue to receive the amount of injury pension which their disablement qualifies them for, should their degree of disablement alter substantially – for worse, or for better. We suspect, however, that it is less of a slip but rather some sure-footed footwork by a Director who has her heart and her brain fully ethically engaged. She has perhaps recognised the dreadful impact which unlawful or unnecessary reviews bring, to the individuals concerned, and in a different, financial, budget-busting way, to the forces concerned.

The review provision in the Regulations care not what band a person is. The Regulations are blind to the cost implications. Approaching reviews from the point of view of using them to save money is unlawful and immoral. As we have said many a time, injury awards are a form of compensation of work related injuries quantified by the affect the injury has had on a person’s capacity to earn.

Instead of their true purpose, some police pension authorities have corrupted injury awards into the politics of welfare, to what can be termed a ‘race to the bottom’; that is, a drive to cut costs, provision and standards.

There would be a massive improvement in the discourse of injury awards if those who administer the Regulations would calm down enough to think hard about what was being said and to examine its possible truth value.

If the rogue Police Pension Authorities could, for once, examine the ‘heat’ they put into liking or advocating the unpleasant things, plastered all in the emails they distribute between themselves behind closed doors, and start to see the light, there would less opportunity for any independent observer to incessantly impute badness to these people.

Their public face says reviews are nothing to do with the money. Safely sat at their desks their half-truths and lies are forgotten whilst the hot potato of unlawful reviews is put aside to allow them to concentrate on the pressure from above, from the bean-counters and ignorant Chief Constables who see only balance sheets.

The burning – indeed ice melting – question is why would a certain HR manager, one who has been at the centre of the review fiasco in Avon & Somerset since its inception, think its appropriate to ask her force’s Finance Director whether band ones should be reviewed?

There’s nothing in the Regulations to say band ones should be treated any differently from any other band … so, with asinine brashness, Avon & Somerset’s Police Human Resources Manager of Planning, Christine Jones, brings the whole massive iceberg to the surface in her witless puzzlement of why the heck are they even considering to review band ones!

Come on guys, what’s the point? – she asks. It’s not as if we can reduce them any further!

jones-bulpitt-19112015

Realising the thin ice that Jones is blundering across has not only cracked but in danger of shattering, Dr Bulpitt, the force’s highly paid Medical Advisor, attempts damage limitation concerning any ‘wild’ assertion from his staff that this is all about reducing people and saving money.

With a rheumy eye to future disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Bulpitt, steps in to suggest that he is only doing this mass review program for the benefit of the unfortunate band ones!

bulpitt-jones-30112015

So, according to the kindly, caring Dr David Bulpitt, those former officers who are on the highest band, classified in the Regulations as being the victims of ‘very serious disablement’ as a result of performing their duty, are nothing less than ‘selfish’ and ‘fortunate’.

It seems, from this memo, that once Bulpitt thinks the cracking, popping, chirping and pinging from the ice has lessened from Jones’ heavy footfalls, his Tourettes kicks in and normal service resumes. He reverts to his usual nasty, brash, inconsiderate, disability discriminatory self. His memo reveals he thinks his attempts to say as many people should be increased than reduced has stopped the ice from weakening.

His disingenuous claim that reviews are ‘all about the band ones‘ doesn’t, in any way imaginable, mask his claim that those forced to end their career with a severe disability to their earning capacity are ‘fortunate‘ and ‘selfish‘ in their desire to be treated both with dignity and within the law.

Let’s be clear – a doctor, a highly paid medical professional, employed by a police force, has gone on public record that people with a severe degree of disablement which ended their police career are ‘fortunate’ and ‘selfish’.

Why is Dr Bulpitt’s statement about band ones all pretence and covering-his-back bluster? Because in Avon & Somerset between 2005 to 2010 there was not a single increase to any injury award at all. Not only was no single person with a band one increased, there were no increases at all of any banding.

Dr Bulpitt could, of course, send a letter out to every one of the 70 band ones identified by Christine Jones and ask them politely if there has been a deterioration to their medical condition. It is fair to say the probability of him sending such a letter is less than that of Donald Trump converting to Islam and still being elected President.

Dr Bullpitt could also, of course, recommend to his Police Pension Authority, who is the Chief Constable, that he hire another SMP just to review all those on band one. Band one pensioners would be unlikely to object, wouldn’t they? He has chosen not to make that recommendation, for the simple reason that his words are a sham. He has no intention of wanting to see band ones reviewed. He records his fake concern for them only to lay down a get out of goal free card, should he need it. Perhaps this is a sign that he realises the end is now not very far away?

Just like the dungeon scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Dr Bulpitt is effectively saying this to those on any award higher than a band one: You lucky, lucky bastards.  Proper little jailer’s pet, aren’t we? You must have slipped the original SMP a few shekels, eh?

There is no sign from this doctor of any understanding that those on higher awards could have been retired with a higher degree of disability simply because their disablement qualified them for it. He seems to be fixate on some unstated conviction that all bands above band one were the result of some sort of ‘fix’. He pays only lip-service to the fact that there are band ones with an award too low for the disability inflicted upon them. It is abhorrent that a clinician, with such callous condescension, can dismiss all historical awards which were given by his predecessors.

The fact is, Dr Bulpitt, that pensioners themselves were not responsible for deciding what band they were awarded. Those decisions were made by senior people within the organisation, overseen by the then Police Authority. Most, probably all of those disabled officers had no knowledge of the Regulations, and in the midst of the trauma of injury and enforced retirement could hardly have been in any fit state to query the decisions of those in authority. If you think that the ‘wrong’ bandings were decided, then why are you calling pensioners selfish and fortunate? Why are you not calling for your predecessors and for former Police Authorities and former Chief Constables to be investigated and made to account for their decisions?

Bear in mind though that those decisions can not now be overturned. The law is very clear on that point. Decisions are final, subject only to appeal within certain time limits, now long past. Also, can you imagine the disastrous publicity which would ensue should any force attempt to hound disabled people, not for mistakes made by them, but for mistakes made by their former force? What would the Home Office have to say about that, Bulpitt? Given that the Home Office might well have been encouraging Chief Officers to rid themselves of disabled officers at that time? A word of advice, Doc – don’t go looking for any support in that direction. They have long decided they want nothing more to do with existing injury pensions; having sipped from the poisoned chalice once they are not coming back for another quaff. Ask the suddenly retired, aged 54, former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire what support she got from the Home Office when her particular injury pension scam was revealed in all its sordid glory.

We’ve mentioned that Dr Bulpitt seems to be clumsily mitigating Christine Jones’ attitude to band ones, knowing full well that the emails he types can find their way in the public domain. But isn’t it more than likely that Jones is just saying exactly what she has learnt from the jerky personality of Dr Bulpitt? Hierarchy works like this: when anger and intimidation flow down, initiative stops flowing up.

Christine Jones has summarised the whole attitude in Avon & Somerset: Why review when they can’t be reduced further …

And why is this disclosure important?

Because serving officers are currently in the ‘care’ of Dr Bulpitt and the culture of disrespect towards disabled former officer is not confined to them – it extends to any serving officer unfortunate enough to become injured on duty. Dr Bulpitt’s words are but a visible symptom of a deeply-engrained institutional attitude of disrespect which, if allowed to continue uncorrected will have adverse effect on the efficiency and morale of the force.

The link between harsh words and medical errors was reignited in 2012 when Lucian Leape, Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, published a two-part series in Academic Medicine. Leape and his co-authors asserted that,

‘A substantial barrier to progress in patient safety is a dysfunctional culture rooted in widespread disrespect.’

The series also reported,

‘Disrespect is a threat to patient safety because it inhibits collegiality and co-operation essential to teamwork, cuts off communication, undermines morale, and inhibits compliance with and implementation of new practices.’

The £159,000 remuneration of A&S’s Force Medical Advisor should dictate that the recipient of the salary is beyond reproach in their maintaining of high standards. Sadly the Bulpitt exception proves the rule. Also sadly, it is doubtful whether the Constabulary will do the right thing and dispense with the services of the dubious Dr Bulpitt. They could get a decent doctor for half the price: that’s a legitimate way to save money.

What is certain is that until the culture changes, the maladministration will continue, and people like Dr Bulpitt and Jones and Kern will continue to skate on thin ice until they and this particular police force sinks under the weight of more and more scandals.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Blowin’ in the Wind

“I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible….except by getting off his back.” ― Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do?


…and how many times must they say they must review
Before there’s no savings to be gained?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

This song speaks about humanity, war and peace and other ambiguous questions which people refuse to answer. Bob Dylan claims that the answers are already there.  In his own words:

Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some …But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many . . . You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.

We at IODPA have been piecing together some of the pieces of the electronic paper trail left blowing in the wind by police forces, and they tell a story of their true agenda concerning reviews of injury pensions.

Some forces are two-faced.

With their public face, HR managers bang on about how they have a duty to hold reviews. They point to the Regulations in support of this claim. With their hidden, private, yet so revealing face they chatter away about the cost of injury pensions and how reviews might save them money. The hidden face reveals attitudes towards disabled people which are close to being hateful.

So many times have disabled former officers been told about the supposed positive, statutory, power to review an injury award, whenever the fancy takes them, and we have seen how certain police pension authorities relish the task. They, just like Tolstoy’s piggy-backer, claim in the same breath that they are a reluctant agent; that their hands are tied and they have no choice in the matter.

Blow the health and sanity of those caught up in the review roller-coaster.

On every opportunity we’ve argued against this hogwash.  Repeating our assertion that the Regulations intend that a review should be a blue moon event solely dependent on the circumstances of the individual.

And then yet another piece of paper flutters down in front of us.  This time from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

The latest IOD policy from Cambridgeshire is that as there are no savings to made then the ‘proactive’ review policy of the force will be suspended.

“That in the absence of current national guidance on Injury Award Reviews and the diminishing likelihood of accruing further savings, the current proactive review process be suspended. “

How very interesting.

It seems then, from this that the attitude of those in authority is the review provision within the Regulations is there to allow them to save money. This is about as far away from the true purpose and intent of the Regulations as it is possible to bend one’s thinking. According to Cambs, they review to try to save money, then stop reviewing when it becomes clear that there will be no savings.

Thus the ‘proactive’ review policy was always down to a desire to make financial savings and with the intention to reduce the band of those reviewed.

2.5       The process of carrying out first reviews has generated some savings through the reduction in bandings of allowance for some recipients.  However, experience shows that any further reductions in bandings is less likely as a result of second and further reviews.

Their ‘positive power’ to review evaporates as easily as turning off the tap.  When there are no savings they think there is no point.

Our message is, and has always been, that the true purpose of the review provision within the Regulations is nothing to do with ‘making savings’.  Any attempt to review on this basis is blatantly unlawful.

Cambridgeshire police pension authority has clearly fallen far short of the statutory legal requirements set out in the Regulations.

Cambridgeshire cannot say they inadvertently carried out a lawful duty defectively.  Once those defects become apparent or the authority was made aware of the legal issues, if, those defects go uncorrected and the action continues, it is our understanding from that point onwards those people working for the authority, and/or the authority itself, then commit the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

Read their latest policy and decide for yourself.
http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FOI-0871-2016-Injury-Awards-August-2016-FEB.pdf

(To go to page two move your cursor to the bottom left and click the arrow.)

foi-0871-2016-injury-awards-august-2016-feb

 

Former Met Officer wins UPP Tribunal Appeal

Former Met Officer wins UPP Tribunal Appeal

A disabled police officer has won an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) disability discrimination case against the Metropolitan Police after he was told to return to work despite medical evidence saying the enforced return was impossible.

Mr Finlay Buchanan had been absent from work for eight months when the Met began to take steps under a procedure which bears the name Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (“UPP”).

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2016/0112_16_3009.html

“Mr Buchanan is a trained police motorcyclist.  He was assigned to the Diplomatic Support Group in 2002.  On 21 December 2012 he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident while responding to an emergency call.

The accident was not his fault: the brakes on his motorcycle failed.  He made a good recovery from his physical injuries.  But he developed serious post-traumatic stress disorder.

By April 2013 he was a disabled person for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and by May 2013 the Metropolitan police knew or could reasonably be expected to know he had the disability.  He has never been able to return to work.

At the time of the Employment Tribunal hearing in July 2015 medical retirement was under consideration.  That medical retirement has now taken place.”

The original 2015 Employment Tribunal (ET) unanimously held that the steps to force Mr Buchanan to return to work by implementing the UPP amounted to unfavourable treatment because of something arising from the Claimant’s disability.

But the 2015 tribunal found that the unfair treatment was justifiable  under section 15(2)(b) Equality Act 2010 that allows for a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.  In other words, because they concluded that, as the UPP was administratively correct in it’s over-riding procedures, the application of it had a defence of justification.

However the  ET also accepted that the various items of treatment were because of something arising from the Claimant’s disability and that one member of the panel Dr Moher dissented to the ‘justification’ defence.  He argued that the justification defence must extend to the actual treatment.  He found that the defence was not established.  He said that alternative steps of extending the improvement notice or setting ill health retirement procedures in train should have been adopted.  The process was driven by a mechanistic desire to push on through the formal procedures.

The 2015 ET decision was quashed in this EAT by His Honour Justice David Richardson.

The judge said that the Met’s HR officers did not appreciate the extent of their powers under the Regulations or their discretion under the policies.  He also dismissed the relevance of the case law (Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes) that the Met relied upon saying it would only rarely be applicable to disability discrimination cases.

This EAT case makes it clear that HR managers should not robotically follow UPP procedures and should not blindly use policy when it is not appropriate to do so.

The question will always be whether it was proportionate to the Respondent’s legitimate aims to take a particular step under the UPP.

In making that assessment it is of course relevant to take into account that Parliament has laid down a procedure to be followed before an officer can be dismissed on grounds relating to capability; so long as it is also appreciated that neither Parliament nor the Respondent’s own policies require a mechanistic application of the procedure.

It is also relevant to take into account the impact of applying the procedure in a particular way on a particular officer.  I would, however, caution the ET to make careful findings as to the Respondent’s aims;

I think the policies show they may have been more sophisticated than simply “to move in stages towards either a return to work or dismissal”.

 

Minimum Income Guarantee

Minimum Income Guarantee

“If you have got a condition that has made you unfit for work and which can only stay the same or get worse, I think it is just pointless […] to just bring someone back again.” – Damian Green Work and Pensions Secretary

 At last, some common sense. Damian Green was referring to people who are on long term State benefits for illness and injury which prevents them working. In a change of rules due shortly sickness benefits claimants will no longer have to go through reassessments to keep their payments if they suffer from chronic illness.

Now, what are the chances that the unthinking, unfeeling, drones who populate the HR departments of certain police forces will see the close fit of Damien Green’s remarks to the situation faced by disabled former police officers who have permanent disability due to injury on duty?

Think of pushing peanuts uphill with a rubber fork, or of meeting Elvis in your local Pound Shop.

The long sad history of maladministration of police injury pensions has taught us that expecting any degree of initiative from some people is an exercise in futility. They wait patiently to be told what to do, and then do it without critical examination or engagement of moral sense. That’s why IOD pensioners face so much difficulty and why so much taxpayers’ money is wasted on attempting to use unlawful means to review injury pensions.

HR drones fail spectacularly in some part of the country to understand that their job requires them to understand a few simple concepts in regard to injury pensions. And to apply those concepts in a humane fashion, in accordance with the scope and purpose of the Regulations, rather than in compliance with the ramblings of some crazed force solicitor or financial director, or on the unlawful guidance of some long retired Home Office civil servant.

One such concept is that of minimum income guarantee.

The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006, Schedule 3 gives a description to the injury pension granted to former officers disabled through no fault of their own whilst on duty. It is described as ‘a minimum income guarantee

In this blog we are going to be concentrating on what that means, particularly the meaning of minimum income. However, it is worth bearing in mind as you read on, if you will, the word ‘guarantee’. Which to most folk, save for certain HR drones and assorted persons of evil intent, means that the Regulations give a promise or assurance, which attests that the injury pension will be paid no matter what.

There is no small print with this guarantee. Note well, there is nothing about it being reduced should a pensioner have other income. It is an unconditional guarantee.

The only way an injury pension can be ceased by some default on the part of the pensioner is if the pensioner commits treason or is sentenced to at least ten years imprisonment for an offence against the Official Secrets Act.

The concept of the injury pension providing a minimum income guarantee is lost on those HR drones who park their brains alongside their overcoats when they commence their day’s work.

They may well have at some point unthinkingly, uncritically, adopted the misplaced idea that was touted by John Alexander Gilbert, civil servant in the Home Office (retired). He was responsible for issuing the nattily entitled, ‘Guidance for SMPs, Police Medical Appeal Boards, Chief Constables and Police Authorities’. [Hereinafter referred to as ‘the guidance’]

Mr Gilbert wrote:

How an Injury Award is Calculated
An injury award consists of a lump-sum gratuity and also a pension where, as is normally the case, the person’s other relevant income needs to be topped up to the level of his or her minimum income guarantee.
‘ [Emphasis added]

Even small child sucking a sherbert dipper and clutching a favourite teddy bear would, upon reading this utterance, have piped up and cried, ‘I may only be little but even I can see that according to Mr Gilbert an injury pensioner could never be paid more than the amount of his or her injury pension. The way Mr Gilbert puts it, if a pensioner earns a few quid collecting shopping trolleys at Tesco, the HR drones would want to reduce his injury pension by an equivalent amount.’

Where do we get the idea that the injury award is a guarantee of minimum income?

The Regulations clearly says the injury pension is quantified as minimum income guarantee expressed as % of average pensionable [police] pay. In plain language, the injured officer’s police salary is used as one element to calculate the amount of injury pension due. The other elements are years of service and degree of disablement.

And that is the last time any form of wages come into anything to do with injury pensions. Wages and earnings are not mentioned anywhere in relation to any review of degree of disablement.

Let’s be clear – there no link of minimum income guarantee with earnings. And a minimum income guarantee is not designed or intended to bring total income up to a certain level.

Why can we state this as undisputed fact?  The facetious answer would be if this was true it would be better called a maximum income guarantee.

The legal answer concerns the 2012 demolition in the Administrative Court of the Home Office guidance which wrongly put forward that a link with earnings as a ‘top-up’, is necessary.

Mr Justice Supperstone in the 2012 case of Simpson V PMAB & SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT & Northumbria explicitly rejected the position of Mr Sanders QC, who, defending the position of the Home Office and their guidance, submitted:

‘. . . that it is the claimant [the pensioner] who falls into error by seeking to divorce earnings capacity from practical reality in the purpose of injury pensions.’

Section 5, paragraph 6 of the guidance brazenly claimed that this imaginary link with earnings as a ‘top-up’ is necessary:

Degree of disablement 6.

For the purposes of police injury awards “degree of disablement” means the extent to which the SMP assesses a person’s earning capacity has been affected by the relevant injury. The link with earnings is necessary because injury pensions are based on a system of “minimum income guarantee” designed to bring total income in retirement up to a certain level.

Mr David Lock QC, acting for the pensioner, disagreed with Ms Sander’s submission. He submitted his learned opinion that the guidance is wrong in that,

‘. . . it mistakes earnings for earning capacity.’

The Court accepted Mr Lock’s view, rejected Mr Sander’s view, and confirmed that degree of disablement is assessed by regard to the loss of capacity to earn, and not by regard to any actual loss of earnings. In other words, a pensioner can earn whatever he is able to earn, and any earnings are irrelevant to the assessment of earning capacity. The correct test is to what extent has his ability to do paid work been diminished by the disabling effects of duty injury.

This is nothing more than common sense, and if any of that quality in HR people, SMPs and all others concerned had been less rare and less fogged by the insidious Home Office guidance then the case need not have been brought to trial.

Unfortunately, the residue of the misleading guidance still permeates the brains of those who administer injury awards. The effects have been damaging and long lasting.

Although the argument was lost, the pernicious after-effects resonate still. Certain people blatantly refuse to accept that their interpretation of the Regulations, based on the guidance, is wrong

They are the equivalent to flat Earthers who, given a globe for their birthday, would wish to take an iron to it and deflate it into two dimensions.

A minimum income guarantee isn’t a ceiling – it is a floor. When a floor for income is set, a certain minimum amount must be paid – as is the case with injury pensions. A floor for the injury pension does not create a barrier to the pensioner making other earnings.

Back in 1978 the case of an injured officer from Merseyside Police was discussed in the House of Commons. The basis of this exchange hinged on the thoughts of the Member of Parliament for the injured officer. Merseyside had cast a young police officer aside onto the scrap heap after being run over by a stolen car whilst on duty.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1978/dec/15/police-constable-turner-merseyside

Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department) was justifying that the retired officer was compensated for loss of status as well as loss of finance:

Mr. Turner has not appealed against discharge or against the degree of his disability, which has been assessed at 40 per cent. We have checked with the police authority that Mr. Turner’s award has been correctly based. He receives an ill-health pension and an injury pension, which have been increased annually since awarded….

A police pension is not reduced on account of any pay received from civilian employment.

I hope that I have shown that the financial arrangements that the police service makes for those of its officers who are unfortunate enough to have to retire on account of injury on duty are very fair. There is obviously nothing which can adequately compensate for Mr. Turner’s lost career, as the hon. Gentleman is emphasising. I hope, however, that the hon. Member will agree that the care and sympathetic consideration shown by the police service for officers injured in the line of duty.

The Secretary of State was explicitly saying in the House of Commons that Mr Turner, as a former officer with an injury award, could earn whatever he was able to without reduction of his award.  But Dr Summerskill did not end her point here.  She also continued that Mr Turner is admirably advancing his future prospects.

Ex-police constable Turner has been very much worse off ever since the accident, even though he has worked very hard as a clerk and has been promoted. He has passed a number of examinations which he took to improve his position and pay, and he must be commended.

Fast forward to 2016 and the self-created Merseyside Police Medical Retirement Officer, Peter Owens, would have felt obliged to see Mr Turner’s promotion as a certain indicator that his degree of disablement had substantially altered and would hasten to reduce his injury pension to a zero percent band.

The Regulations in 1978 when Dr Summerskill spoke up are in no material way different from the current Regulations. The only difference is the way they are administered.

And out of the seven billion people on this planet it seems only Mr Gilbert, said former Home Office employee, had the front to make the mathematically impossible assertion that a minimum can be a transmuted to ‘top-up’ to a maximum?

Although his UK Human Resources acolytes still follow his discredited teachings, everyone else thinks a minimum income guarantee is just that – a guaranteed minimum income.

Other organisations in other parts of the World have experimented with the idea of a minimum income guarantee. Let’s look to Alaska.  The Alaskan government, for instance, has since 1982 paid a dividend on oil revenues to all residents, about $1,100 a year on average.  Everyone gets a payout, rich or poor, employed or not.

The minimum income guarantee, or the income floor, in Alaska is thus about $1,100.

Finland is considering an experiment that would give up to 10,000 people roughly $625 a month, tax-free, which would replace most existing welfare benefits.

In Canada an experiment with minimum income guarantee was called a “mincome” experiment, as in “minimum income.” It was conducted in just a couple of places, including a town of about 12,000 called Dauphin. It’s in Manitoba, a few hours Northwest of Winnipeg.

No matter if any resident Canadian then earned big money working as a ‘Ice Road Trucker’, they would still get the payment.

The experiment was never finalised and a report never issued but it was proposed to give those involved a ‘minimum income guarantee’.  Anecdotal evidence suggested that a guaranteed income can produce positive results.

What none of these guarantees ever did was to place a high bar and remove the income once the recipient raised their income over a set threshold.  That would be ludicrous.

Noticeably, there doesn’t seem to be a legal definition of a minimum income guarantee in the UK.

Is this because the term is so self-explanatory it needs no explanation?  It is only those who have been touched by idiotic Home Office guidance and similar advice issuing from elements within the National Attendance Management Forum who think differently.

Stop to think for a second.  Concentrate on the hundreds of former police officers who have had their awards reduced or removed entirely because, like Mr Turner in 1978, they have managed to gain employment after being retired from the police.  Now think of the reason: they disclosed a salary – or earnings.  And because of this the HR manager took it upon themselves to turn a minimum guarantee into a maximum ceiling just to save the force money.

This travesty must be stopped now.  All those affected should have their awards restored immediately.

Failure to do the right thing will mean this will inevitably be resolved in favour of the pensioners at Judicial Review – and that is something which we in IODPA can absolutely guarantee.