Update: Staffordshire Agreement

The Staffordshire branch of NARPO has, quite correctly, asked the Police Federation of England & Wales (PFEW) about the “agreement” that was sent out to those as a consequence of being paper reviewed almost a decade ago.  Remember this “agreement” was signed at the time by the individual, local NARPO, local PFEW and Staffordshire police.

Legal Advice March 2008 Agreement

There is a stand-out point that seems to be missed here …  The test whether the contract is a stand-alone, legally binding thing of absolute validity is arguably the wrong question to apply.  It matters not whether the contract, on it’s own, is a legal document of authority.  What matters is the context underpinning how the signed paper came into being and the legitimate expectation such a document provides as a consequence of the processes that occurred before it.

If the conclusion is flawed  (the “agreement“), then the process (a review conducted under Regulation 37) that led to that conclusion is compromised.

So the real significance lies in the gap between the very start of process (including the motivation behind why it commenced) to the finality of the Staffordshire 2008 mass review program, the conclusion of such being the “agreement“.

If the context of the “agreement” is flawed then it opens the fact that the paper review that underpins the “agreement” is unsound.

All those mass paper reviews conducted a decade ago by Staffordshire, in an attempt to limit their exposure to the illegality of the 46/2004 Home Office guidance, were finalised without the knowledge contained in the later judgements found in the Pollard, Turner and Laws judicial reviews.

A mechanism to fix such wrongs is a Regulation 32 reconsideration and the legal advice of the PFEW, however it is interpreted, is a gateway that brings to stark realism the judgement of Justice King in Haworth, R (on the application of) v Northumbria Police Authority [2012]  that a reconsideration …

should be construed as a free standing mechanism as part of the system of checks and balances in the regulations to ensure that the pension award, either by way of an initial award or on a review to the former police officer by either the SMP or PMAB, has been determined in accordance with the regulations and that the retired officer is being paid the sum to which he is entitled under the regulations.

…and that refusal of the police pension authority to allow such right to a mechanism to fix a wrong is:

potentially unlawful interference with a ECHR right

We could have saved the effort of the PFEW by telling those who asked that the “agreement” is not congruent with the “checks and balances” demanded by the Regulations.  Excuse the use of deliberate tautology, but the point is so important that it needs to be repeated with different words: the “agreement” is a dubious result caveated by Staffordshire Police’s 2008 mass review program that was itself, by its very nature, not congruent with “checks and balances” demanded by the Regulations.

Before a person  starts to think they should ever acquiesce to any review there needs to be answers.  Not only shall the review be justified to the individual, a suitable interval needs to have elapsed and individual discretion applied based on that person’s circumstances.  The disabled former officer also needs to fix the damage done by any previous unlawful paper review.

We will be pleased to field any questions you may have about the information contained in this post and the PDF above.  Either comment below, so others can benefit from the conversation, or email us for a private chat admin@iodpa.org

Update: Staffordshire Agreement
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10 thoughts on “Update: Staffordshire Agreement

  • 2017-06-05 at 7:45 pm

    I was IOD and retired suffering from PTSD I find this whole thing very disturbing and feel for all of you Staffs IOD’s that are now living this nightmare.
    I have read the questionnaire that has been discussed on here and the threat of fraud, how below the belt is that threat.
    The support from NARPO and the Fed appears to be zero, they are telling you that you must fill in the questionnaire otherwise you may be dropped to band 1.
    My advice is contact IODPA where you will be able to get the help, advice and support that you need at the moment

    • 2017-06-06 at 6:33 am

      Thanks Special Price. It’s certain that it would be illegal to reduce or even stop an injury pension for not completing a questionnaire. What upsets us is by condoning the questionnaire the Feds are not challenging the unlawful threat behind it.
      The questionnaire has irrelevant questions and is an invented device that starts a fishing expedition. The Regulations make no mention of such a thing for a reason, that reason summarised by the earlier comment by man with shove found below.

  • 2017-06-05 at 9:04 am

    Again thank goodness that IODPA exists to protect us!!!

    I often wonder back in the day what local agreements were agreed between Staffs police and NARPO and Feds, all under the basis they ; will not get found out and wanting, We shall keep the IOD pensioner sweet and silence.

    The integrity of not only SP is found to be flawed, but also the Feds and NARPO; I am sad to say.

    Surely the NARPO chairman Mark Judson position is untenable and perhaps he should do the right thing and offer his resignation from NARPO forthwith.

    This is a complete PR shambles for Staffs police. I smell a ‘Rat’ and it stinks.

    We will with the assistance of IOPDA get the bottom of what wrongs where done in gone faith, then we will seek the answer with due diligence to highlight the corrupt practices.

  • 2017-06-04 at 8:52 pm

    A question I would like answered from reading all this is, who was the Staffs Fed Chair when the contract was agreed? He/she should be held accountable for this load of mire he/she has allowed to happen.
    This advice makes dire reading and the sad thing is, many of Staffs IODs will believe it.
    What is the NARPO Chair doing to rectify it all?
    Surely the NARPO Chair should be shouting out to protect their IODs from the situation the Fed Chair left them in.

    • 2017-06-05 at 6:23 am

      Our understanding is the current Staffordshire NARPO chair was the Staffordshire Federation chair when these agreements were created.

  • 2017-06-04 at 3:51 pm

    Again, thank goodness for IODPA. The ever watchful guard dog against the evil minds that hatch such schemes!

  • 2017-06-04 at 3:01 pm

    What I don’t think forces understand is that the Police Injury Pension Regulation were not written for the police if they were written for the police then why do the police keep trying to change them to benefit themselves.
    The Regs were written to protect and provide for those injured on duty and the awards they had been given they were also written so that the police could use them to award pensions and review them lawfully and neutrality etc – not with a predetermined aim to reduce costs.
    Everyday we hear of forces that are trying to circumnavigate the regs one way or another. Why doesn’t the federation HQ get on board and send out a message to say stick to the regs. I know they won’t because they are happy not to get involved.
    The advice that Staffs NARPO have given out is so off the mark that it could cause a lot of damage to vulnerable IODS and cause panic or worse to those mentally ill.
    When NARPO say there is nothing they can do I ask why? Because they can start looking at opening a dialogue with the New Chief or is it that they can see they are out of their depth with the regs.
    I agree that all of the agreement paperwork should be obtained so it can be scrutinised and legal advice obtained.
    NARPO the Feds and the PPA have dirtied their hands with this agreement and I think they will have a problem washing their hands of it.

  • 2017-06-04 at 2:00 pm

    Staffordshire Police proudly boast –

    “If the individual fails to submit to medical examination or fails to attend the SMP’s appointment, Regulation 33 enables the Police Pension Authority to determine on such evidence and medical advice as in her discretion she thinks necessary, to withhold or reduce the individual’s Injury Pension”,

    This can be found at https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/6977/Legal-Background

    This corrupt Police force out of control. There is NO provision in the Police Injury Benefit Regs to “withhold” a pension under this, or any other circumstances. They have clearly stated their intention to act unlawfully to a disabled group that they are now discriminating against.

    If they follow through with this course of action it is almost certain that these matters will be heard in the High Court, where the Judge will be presented with screenshots of their malicious intent.

  • 2017-06-04 at 12:29 pm

    Thank for such a brilliant reply, man with shovel. Just the engagement we were after. Keep the comments flowing please readers

  • 2017-06-04 at 12:13 pm

    The Narpo account of the legal advice is rather amateur and poorly worded and can only serve to further confuse and possibly misdirect injury on duty pensioners.

    The situation in Staffordshire seems to be this: the police pension authority (PPA) wishes to conduct reviews of the degrees of disablement of all IOD pensioners – though there is some indication that those on band one may not be reviewed. Naturally, all IOD pensioners who thought the 2008 agreement meant they would no longer face any reviews are now disturbed to learn that is not the case. All IOD pensioners are now placed into a state of concern that the intention of these reviews is to use unlawful methods to achieve a reduction in pension payments.

    There is no doubt the agreement is unenforceable as it contains elements which are patently unlawful.

    Any action taken by IOD pensioners hoping to claim they had formed a reasonable expectation they would not be reviewed would very probably fail. This is a difficult area of litigation but I feel confident that legal advice would be not to attempt this avenue in the hope of fending off any threatened review. A police pension authority has a duty to conduct reviews and could not be prevented from doing so merely because an unlawful agreement had been entered into. It matters not that any individual might have been mislead.

    The point here is that if the PPA is using regulation 37, then it must do so properly. It must first consider whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement since the time of the last final decision on that question. That must be an individual consideration, for each pensioner. The consideration must take into account only relevant factors and must not consider irrelevant factors.

    Relevant factors would be only an alteration in the disabling effects of the duty injury or injuries, or that some new job which was not available at the time of the last decision had become available and that the individual would be able to take on that job.

    Irrelevant factors would be any consideration of the cost of injury pension payments, either as a whole or for any individual, or taking into account any increase (or decrease) in an individual’s earnings. Also irrelevant are a person’s age. Reviewing because someone has reached what would be normal retirement age from the force, or the age when they would qualify for payment of the State pension would be unlawful.

    Similarly, it is unlawful to decide to review en masse, as there has been no individual consideration of the circumstances of each IOD pensioner.

    Essentially, a review is a medical matter, and as a PPA is not qualified to form a medical opinion, it must therefore rely on a medical professional to provide an opinion on whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement.

    Most importantly, the duty placed on a PPA to consider whether degree of disablement has altered is a conditional duty. Any consideration must be only at such intervals as may be suitable. A PPA has a wide discretion to decide that it would not be a suitable time to make any consideration of degree of disablement. It seems that Staffordshire PPA seeks to ignore the need to exercise its power of discretion in each individual case. It may well claim that reviewing all is is the only fair way to proceed, but it would be wrong to think that way. It is not at all fair to review all in the expectation of identifying the few who will have experienced a substantial alteration in degree of disablement.

    The stastitics on numbers and result of reviews held in the five years 2011 to 2015 show that the vast majority of reviews, some 83%, resulted in a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement.

    The NARPO advice that IOD pensioners should complete any questionnaire is meant well, as it may be sufficient for the PPA to decide there has been no alteration in degree of disablement. However, and this is a point missed entirely by NARPO, where a questionnaire asks for irrelevant information any decision which is then made would be void as it would not have been properly arrived at.

    We have seen this in Merseyside, where a civilian employee made decisions based purely on questionnaires and a concept that anyone who had experienced a 10% increase in their earned income might have consequently seen an improvement in their degree of disablement.

    So, if Staffordshire PPA wishes to conduct reviews, it should ask each individual IOD pensioner to self-declare whether their degree of disablement has altered.

    Not by using a questionnaire, but by explaining in careful, concise, correct language exactly what degree of disablement means in the Regulations and what indicators the individual should consider might point to an alteration. Again, these will primarily be medical pointers.

    As an injury pension can only be revised (upwards or downwards) when there is found to be a substantial alteration in degree of disablement, the PPA should make that abundantly clear. Substantial is not defined in the Regulations, but its ordinary meaning can be applied, which would suggest that it would be very plain to any IOD pensioner whether their disablement had become very much better or very much worse.

    And here is the rub. All PPAs are deeply distrustful of their IOD pensioners. They just cannot bring themselves to believe that pensioners will admit to a substantial improvement in degree of disablement. Hence the questionnaires worded in such a way, and containing (unenforceable) threats are intended to put IOD pensioners in fear of dire consequences should they not complete the questions or give a wrong answer.

    That is no way to adminster an injury pension scheme.

    NARPO needs to work this through with Staffordshire PPA. They have to find a way which allows the PPA to properly excercise its power of discretion over whether or not to review and to to do so in a way which does not abuse the rights of pensioners or place them and their families under harmful stress or having to face continual finacial uncertainty throughout their retirement.

    It is time that the bean counters and jobsworths who infest HR departments are strongly reminded that the Regulations are not a stick with which to beat disabled former officers, but are there as a rightful form of compensation for injury recieved in the line of duty with no default. Injury pensions should be seen as a cost which each force should bear with pride as a reminder of the debt owed to every officer who has been injured.

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