Defending the Indefensible

During the festive period we didn’t waste valuable Quality-Street-eating or telly-gazing time.  Our investigative columnist was simultaneously scoffing chocolates and watching Dr Who whilst trawling our archives.

We’ve dusted off a letter from Julie Spence, the former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire.  As a Chief Constable she made the extraordinary claim was that the guidance in Home Office Circular 46/2004 was mandatory – that she had no choice but to reduce those over 65 years of age to the lowest award and zero percent disability because:

that it is not our job to pick and choose the regulations that we will apply and the ones we will ignore

In a letter written to the local NARPO magazine, Spence was attempting to justify her position, allegedly based on ‘legal advice’ she impudently claims, that the Home Office Guidance that said those over 65 years of age have no capacity to earn was compulsory and it is a cruel irony of life that people are complaining given she is just doing the good the work of restoring order from chaos.  Apparently.

Here’s the full letter.  Also you can find the text of the letter at the bottom of the post.

Nowadays Notts, Merseyside, Avon & Somerset and Northumbria are currently all following the rule of Spence.  Argue black is white and claim what they force upon disabled former and serving officers is mandatory.  When it clearly is no such thing.

You might care to bear in mind that Julie Spence has a law degree, which would lead one to presume she should have known full well the true status of Home Office guidance, and if she was in any doubt about the status of HO guidance she had a telephone on her desk which she could have used to call the HO for clarification.

Instead she decided to follow the same nonsense spouted by force solicitors such as Northumbria’s Nicholas “all SMP’s are judges” Wirz and Avon & Somerset’s Daniel “we can only imply threats to suspend awards” Johnson.

In March 2010 she announced her retirement following repeated challenges over her claim and a matter of days after the Home Office advised all forces to suspend reviews – a clear signal of admission that the guidance she insisted was ‘mandatory’ was in fact unlawful.

The unlawfulness of the guidance and the primacy of Regulations was reaffirmed in the Ayres Pension Ombudsman decision, and the judicial reviews of Crudace, Simpson and the consent order made in Slater.

So the next time some HR Director says they have ‘taken legal advice’, just remember, as far as the quality of the advice goes, they would’ve been better off talking to the coffee machine.

letter from our Chief Constable:  

Dear Mr MaCallum  Congratulations your new role as Chair- man of Cambridgeshire NARPO.

I am sorry that my first letter to you as Chairman is one in which I feel I  express my disappointment.

I read with some surprise David Blake’s  goodbye message contained in the April  NARPO newsletter, and the criticism of me  that I “remain intransigent”. I am concerned  that this gives your members totally the  wrong impression.

If by this it meant that I am bound by  statute, regulations or mandatory Home  Office guidance on the issue of the payments of injury awards, then I am.

If it means that I Will not tax-payers  money where I do not have the authority to  do then I agree.  

If it means that I Will listen , that I am  not prepared to explore avenues that others  have progressed, or that I do not appreciate  or understand all view points on this issue  then I reject the criticism.  

As Police Officers each one of your  members understands, or should under-  stand, that it is not our job to pick and  choose the regulations that we will apply  and the ones we will ignore.  

Sometimes we have to make tough choices  about the action we take. As a public  service, this is what is expected.

NARPO have asked me to look at options  that other forces have used, and I have done  that. I have sought legal advice to explore  the extent of duty and authority that exists.  Further I have sought and received advice  about Home Office Guidance that NARPO  had advised allows discretion, and been told  very clearly that it is mandatory.  

I do not call this call this intransigence.  I call this living with reality. It is a reality that should  have been gripped several years ago and the  fact that it was not is yet another symptom  Of the fact that Cambridgeshire for  many years a failing Force.  

It is One Of life’s cruel ironies that we turn  on individuals who try their best to restore  normal good performance. In fact NARPO  would be better directing their criticism to  those who were part of the system that  allowed that dreadful mess to be created in  the first place.  

I also need to let you know that despite what been written, every officer who  retires from Cambridgeshire Constabulary  may have a meeting with me. Many people  take up this opportunity, a small number  choose not to – that is their choice. If in the  future you want to check what the current  policy in the force is, please feel free to  phone my office and my staff will endeavour to provide all the help you need.  

We need to work together and have an  dialogue, even over the tough times, where  we have to agree to disagree. said, I  truly do forward to supporting  NARPO and would be grateful if you could  rectify any misunderstandings your  members may currently have about the  force. If it would help please print this  letter in any upcoming newsletter.  

Julie Spence OBE Bed LLB MA MBA  Chief Constable


Defending the Indefensible

4 thoughts on “Defending the Indefensible

  • 2017-01-05 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the speedy reply.

    I have a valid “Cogent reason” so hopefully that will be taken into account when the time comes.

    • 2017-01-06 at 7:21 am

      Hi Fuzzwoz. “Cogent reasons” are history. Gone. They were a made up device by the unlawful home office circular to pretend there was some individual reasoning to automatic reduction. Automatic reduction on reaching a given age is unlawful and will not happen.
      What police Pension authorities try now is to forensically examine medical history from birth in order to make up another reason to justify a reduction to the award – underlying degeneration, apportionment etc. Even though these issues have been decided in the high court they still try to bully vulnerable people into acquiescence. Now they can’t abribitarily reduce based on age they attempt other angles. Email uson if you would like to chat further

  • 2017-01-05 at 4:43 pm

    Anyone know if reducing those over 65 years of age to the lowest award and zero percent disability is happening today? Hope not!

    • 2017-01-05 at 6:35 pm

      Apportionment, revisiting causation, over-taking of non onduty underlying degenerative injury, earnings instead of earning capacity. The Simpson judicial review caused a change of tactics. They still try to reduce those over 65. Different means … Same end Fuzzwoz. SMPs and PMABs are still following Part 5 of the Home Office’s Guidance on Medical Appeals. Yep! You heard that right. NARPO are the protagonists now the Home Office aren’t involved. They instruct the NARPO approved HR directors & SMPs to bully the vulnerable into compliance.

      And the people who replaced Spence, in certain named forces, have the gall to say they are doing things right.

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