“Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect any who seek it.”
― Frank Herbert,
What shocks us the most about the National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum (NWEF previously NAMF) is that occasionally it doesn’t even try to hide how biased it, and some of it’s attendees, actually are. For example, Nicholas Wirz’s opinion of the Fisher judgement in the March 2017 minutes. Wirz says the uninjured comparator has been clarified as being the police salary when “the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy“. Oh my! Well… that’s a jump.
The author of this blog was sat in the public gallery at the Fisher judgement throughout the hearing and what Wirz claims to be the opinion of the court was never said. The court clearly stated the police salary should be considered as the lowest starting point – nothing was touched on about being otherwise healthy; Wirz has made that bit up! Just in case there has been a lapse of memory, the transcript has been read and reread. Nope, nothing like Wirz’s take on it there. Typical example of Wirz’s ability to put a spin on things to suit his own purposes – which, in respect of the NWEF is to mislead and misdirect.
We know exactly what Wirz is trying to infer here and will talk about his “otherwise healthy” in another blog – he is truly the gift that keeps giving blog material.
The Forum’s prejudices are so obvious as to be blinding – they obscure its baby steps towards being self-proclaimed experts in the Police Regulations. There is nothing certain elements within the NWEF would like more than to see regional units set up to administer all aspects of police ill health and injury pensions, from grant to grave.
These units would be controlled from the centre by the usual suspects, including Wirz, who would carefully select SMPs whose decisions would suit their paymasters. The current police pension authorities would be happily sidelined. They are all, bar the Met, City of London and the Police service of Northern Ireland, local Chief Constables. Everything would be delegated to the regional centres.
IODPA is unhappy with the built-in conflict of interest having Chief Constables in charge of injury pensions – some have shown a determined desire to treat them as a drain on scarce resources rather than honour the scope and purposes of the Regulations. However, should regional units come into being, there is very real concern the Home Office would lurking in the background, pulling the strings.
Thus, even those decent forces which have tried to honestly administer injury pensions would be compelled to see its disabled former officers face the horrors of medical assessments by dubious SMPs who would be under instructions to reduce pension payments by whatever means they think they can get away with.
Like an invading species, NWEF is taking up the ground vacated by the good, honest administrating civilians as they leave in disgust or retire. Affected, or should we say infected forces are left with a skills gap allowing NWEF to doorstep the senior ranks saying they are the answer. The warped an unlawful NWEF view of how the Regulations should be applied then becomes the new norm, and NWEF are a step closer to changing the culture. Seeing the progression gradually happen, when it can be so easily countered, frightens us.
An example of the creep is evidenced in those who go to NWEF conferences. The most recent conference saw a mob-handed turn-out by Staffordshire. Coincidentally this was at the time when they were forming the intent to start a mass review program of injury pensions.
There are many other things which bother us about those who attend the NWEF’s meetings, but one thing which stands out a lot at the moment is the attendance of an individual named Sally Waterlow.
She is listed as an attendee in September 2012, March 2014, December 2015, September 2016 and March 2017.
Who is she, and why are we interested in her? Back in 2012 it appears she worked for the Metropolitan Police in a HR role, with some responsibility for ill health pensions.
The September 14th 2012 minutes contain this statement:
Sally Waterlow (SW) from the Metropolitan Police advised that they were considering withdrawing the services of the SMPs within their force altogether.
Indeed, the Met did decide not to hold further regular reviews of degree of disablement in regard to injury pensioners, and we know that one SMP, a Dr William Cheng did not have his contract renewed. Our Sally then pops up as attending later NAMF conferences – this time as a representative for a company called OHS Partners, with the job description of ‘Advisor to SMP’.
Here is a picture grab of the September 2016 NWEF minutes:
OHS Partners is a company which lists the profile of a single SMP, namely said Dr William Cheng. In fact, Dr Cheng is the company. OHS is merely a convenient, and no doubt tax-efficient, vehicle for him to tout his particular brand of medical services. He is the sole director – a group of four fellow-directors all jumped ship in November 2015. Perhaps they could see the stormy, rocky shore ahead.
The Internet domain registration of ohspartners.co.uk was submitted by a company called Partners Occupational Medical Services Ltd. As mentioned above, the sole director of this company is William Cheng as can be seen by this director report.
For our Sally Waterlow to leave the Met and then join this tinpot company we can only suspect she would’ve had to been secretly lobotomised — perhaps by members of the NAMF’s impeccably fair and impartial board. In the dead of night. Silently, without remorse. Chloroform, a hacksaw, a scalpel. Or she had an entirely rational, but highly dubious motivation
Our guess is that the NWEF chair, Lesley-Ann Knowles, will not give a monkey’s about the fact how it looks when Sally was given actions by the NWEF to introduce NWEF to her own contacts. In 2014 Sally was actioned to approach her own ‘friend’ with an ‘in’ to the Home Office, minuted as:
Finally, Sally Waterlow advised of a useful contact to the group, Avril Cooper, who is advising the Home Office from a practitioner’s perspective.
It seems Avril Cooper was in 2014 Head of Occupational Health with the Metropolitan Police, as she appears as such in the list of attendees to a NAMF meeting in June of that year. In 2013 Avril was representing ACPO on the official side of the now defunct Police Negotiating Board at a Police Arbitration Tribunal. She was there with Peter Spreadbury, who is the Head of the unit within the Home Office which deals with all matters concerning police injury pensions.
Sally Waterlow’s ‘friend‘, Avril Cooper, is also mentioned in Police Advisory Board’s 28 July 2016 meeting held at the Home Office’s address of 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.
At the SAB meeting of 8 July PFEW shared their paper in response to this review. It was also agreed that Avril Cooper (MET) should be invited to share with the SAB findings from a Metropolitan Police survey which was first to be shared with the National Attendance Management Forum.
We would also figure that Ms Knowles, who is employed as a HR director for Northumbria Police, wouldn’t really care that Cheng has been given a contract for work at tri-service conglomerate of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces. Just look at this contract, valued at £576 000, and who it was awarded to:
Name and address of economic operator to whom the contract has been awarded
Partners Occupational Medical Services Ltd
208 Green Lanes, Palmers Green
Oh! Dr Cheng with an ohspartners.co.uk email address … quelle surprise!
So, we have Sally Waterlow and Dr Cheng clearly linked in some way. And Sally has contacts within the Home Office, which means so does the supposedly impartial independent medical assessor, Dr Cheng.
Ms Knowles would also be sanguine, hunkered down behind that familiar defence of: ‘If IODPA think we’re biased then we must be getting it right’ — a self-justifying falsehood if ever there was one.
Knowles will probably dispatch some overpaid, half-witted, oleaginous middle-managing gimp to placate the complainants that to award a contract to the boss of someone who attended her own conferences stinks; while assuring anyone asking that they are wrong in every respect and that, within NWEF, everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. As it always is.
And yet the complainants are right, surely.
The horror when this unexpected eventuality dawns upon someone that can actually do something about this will be our greatest pleasure of the year.
Until then we will point to the truth, and NWEF will continue it’s embarrassing trajectory to oblivion.
It was pretty much ever thus with the NWEF. You may have heard the comments made by some which claim our coverage is guilty of bias. We can take that hit – we reveal the other side to the NWEF coin and we always provide links to the source.
Our view is let the reader decide, so we are never inclined to take the complaints very seriously. But a senior ranking apparatchik said once: ‘What you have to understand, is that only the bad and the mad attend NAMF.’ That was from a senior member of a force that refuses to send delegates to NWEF, since you asked.
Stories of bureaucratic profligacy and incompetence will continue.
The bias we report is so evident, so obvious, so blinding that it sometimes obscures the fact that the awarding of the Cheng contract has a distinctly criminal whiff about it.
We thought you should know about these close links – please come to your own conclusions why Sally Waterlow fervently goes to NWEF conferences . . .