“Painting the Forth Bridge” is a colloquial expression for a never-ending task, coined on the erroneous belief that at one time in the history of the bridge repainting was required and commenced immediately upon completion of the previous repaint. Such a practice never existed, as weathered areas were given more attention, but there was a permanent maintenance crew.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge
We have to laugh at the brass neck of Merseyside Police. According to Supernintendo Markay & Peter Owens the purpose of injury award reviews is to save money. That’s the stated, written into policy objective of the terrible-twosome who perform the dubious role of Merseyside’s medical retirement officers (MRO). They no doubt think that as soon as they have gone through the list and attempted to tar all IOD pensioners with the same band-one-brush, then hey-ho, it’s time to start up again to continue the misery, until everyone damn lot of them is whittled down to a band one.
The hypothetical question we have to ask is: once all are band one, will they wash the brush with white spirit, put the tar bucket in the shed and then leave the pensioners to peel and blister without applying any new coats ever again? Will a single disabled former officer be left in peace, or will Merseyside ensure they all are reviewed regularly for the rest of their lives?
Both Markay and Owens are guilty of unleashing a form of barbarism against those injured on duty from this force, on the basis of a misconceived grasp of the Regulations, alternative truth, and spin. They intend, by their review policy to interfere in disabled people’s lives, to maintain them in a state of financial uncertainty, and to subject them to regular intrusive inquisitions, all in the name of their perverted and utterly unsupportable view of what the Regulations require.
They are determined, indeed, required by the force’s policy, which they seem to see as more important that the rule of law, to regularly demand that IOD pensioners declare any 10% increase in earnings. In the strange world occupied by Markay and Owens there is the belief that if someone sees a 10% increase in earnings then their degree of disablement will probably have altered substantially. However, they, very tellingly, have decided not to ask IOD pensioners to report a 10% decrease in earnings. They are not bothered by that inconsistency as fairness is not part of their game plan.
Do you remember this, below excerpt, from a letter penned by Owens to a person with an IOD award? The bit about a salary increase is in red. Note well that there’s nothing about a salary decrease. In Owens’s world it’s a one-way-street with skills, and earnings dictating the degree of disablement. Leaving aside that the Regulations speak of the capacity to earn, not what might result from that capacity, we see again the one-sided, biased, money-saving objective. Gain a skill and your degree of disablement must have increased. No mention of skills eroding over time due to lack of opportunity to keep them honed and current. On this one way street, there is no traffic in the other direction. Skills can be acquired but never lost, earnings can increase but never decrease, co-morbidity can overtake the index injury never the opposite.
During the EU referendum campaign, there were many spurious overblown claims by leavers and remainers which ran fast and loose with the truth. Those scare tactics were but small fry, infinitesimally small fry, in comparison with the guff Markay and Owens are coming out with. For Peter Owens to create a policy to review injury awards and then to crow about the money he saved, whilst neglecting the laws broken and lives ruined, is an affront to truth and decency and reason. It will cause suicides. It may have already, we just don’t know all what happens after ‘they’ fire the gun at their target. No self-respecting citizen should put up with it.
We have a copy of Merseyside’s processes for the review of injury awards and it apparently relies heavily on a devoutly orthodox take on NAMF (now NWEF) guidance
(3 pages – hover cursor & navigate with bottom left arrows)
Advised not to have an age limit for holding reviews by a weasily solicitor plying his trade in Northern police force? Don’t worry – have a limit anyway. How can someone who has evidently heard of the word ‘discrimination’, even uttered by someone else, write such tosh?
The advice from the author of the NAMF guidance is that no upper limit should be used due to age discrimination. I have noted that some forces have considered using seventy years of age as an upper limit and to date Merseyside have used a ceiling of 65 years.
For the rolling review program, Merseyside policy ignores band one and focuses it’s attention more forcibly on those that cost the most. Discrimination incarnate.
As previously reported injury award reviews have been prioritised with Band 4 reviews being undertaken first then Band 3 awards and finally Band 2. Band 1 awards are not subject of this review.
Of course, we regularly say that anything written by Nicholas Wirz automatically disqualifies itself. But it seems Merseyside take the spoutings of NAMF/NFEW that much further. Take this rotten festering sore of a sentence found in page two:
When considering the implications of example 4 it is inevitable that a large proportion of ex-officers would have their injury awards reduced to Band 1.
Let us translate the above quote lifted from the policy. They are saying if someone’s index injury has not improved, that if there are no jobs available that were not available or if no new skills are evident, but the former officer has developed cancer, then Merseyside are happy to reduce them to a band one. Sod the consequences.
What about our more likely, real-life example that avoids Merseyside’s cliff-edge. A former officer retired with physical injuries who developed a mental illness due to the adverse psychological effects resulting from being physically injured and disabled. Over the years their injuries got somewhat better but their mental illness progressively worsened. Should they be reduced to a band one by Merseyside? Their disability is still a duty injury – they wouldn’t have mental health problems if they had not been injured on duty. It would be unlawful to reduce someone in such a situation, just as it is morally corrupt to reduce an injury pension because a person has cancer or Parkinson’s disease. Why would Markay and Owens take a different position? … because they are delusional about the Regulations and blinded by their objective to save money, that’s why.
The 2010 Doubtfire (& Williams) judicial review sheds light on the truth that the focus is always on the disability, not the diagnosis. We will return to Doubtfire & Williams (a dual hearing involving West Mercia and, quelle surprise, Merseyside) in another blog post.
What about the acquisition of skills being a two-way street? As we mentioned above, Merseyside states that new skills can improve job prospects and thus earnings but nowhere does it say that the loss of skills, by being out of the job market, can reduce earning capacity. Why is this? Rhetorical question, of course. It isn’t mentioned as this doesn’t allow Owens & Markay to work towards reducing all IOD pensioners to a band one.
Is anyone still in any doubt about the Mersyside’s nefarious position that reviews of degree of disablement are a cash-cow to recoup money? Look the last paragraph on page two.
In summary ten per cent of questionnaires sent out at this time have produced ongoing savings of approximately £30,000 per annum. [Exempt information section 40(2) Freedom of information Act, 2000, the personal data exemption].
We haven’t missed the stated implication that the questionnaire has led to the reduction, not the medical decision of a SMP. Why employ a gun-for-hire SMP when a poxy and fallacious questionnaire combined with the stroke of Owens’s pen can do the dirty deed?
The policy sums up the elitism and arrogance and contempt for Regulations of those who just cannot accept that deserving people were given injury awards.
Wirz, Markay and Owens, and their coterie within the NFEW can’t get their heads around this. They are riddled with prejudice and are dismissive of the rights of disabled folk. They have produced policies and guidance which contravene the Regulations, and have done this not out of simple stupidity, but from a misplaced and wholly erroneous conviction that IOD pensioners need to be continually harassed in an attempt to reduce the impact of injury pensions on forces’ budgets.
Anyone with a brain can see that only a small minority of the people involved must actually believe the tripe that Merseyside uses to justify their position. They go along with it, for the sake of not poking their heads above the parapet. They value their jobs more than their conscience. Nor do those who are the named targets of our criticisms care to attempt a defence. They remain silent and acquiescent, for they dare not do otherwise. Our blogs remain unchallenged, for there is no riposte to the truth.
How can anyone with any knowledge of the Equality Act and the legal requirement for reasonable adjustments think that, just like the idiom of painting the Forth bridge, a future review can be scheduled immediately after the current one has finished?
Merseyside is disdainful of the law, and of the rights of disabled people:
On completion of this initial phase of injury award reviews the process will recommence and will be ongoing with new cases that have received awards in the preceding two years and also the reviews conducted at the start of this process will be due their next review.
We now must speak in the language of revolution. We must ‘rise up’. There is need for a ‘revolt’, by ‘force of argument’, against the dangerous madness of the policy espoused by Merseyside.
NARPO and the Police Federation need to take Merseyside to task and join with IODPA in condemning the concept of regular, repeated reviews.
IODPA’s advice to any IOD pensioner caught up in a revolving review program is they should seek redress in an Employment Tribunal for post-employment disability discrimination and subsequent victimisation.