“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
― C.S. Lewis
The administration of injury awards is a racket: given what disabled former police officers have had to suffer at the hands of corrupt doctors acting for police pension authorities, aided and abetted by the astounding ignorance of HR departments, it’s fair to say that’s a given. But unless you’ve had personal experience of the devious workings of those who are responsible for the administration of police injury pensions you probably have no idea just how much of a racket it has become.
If you ever have to deal with Inhuman Resources or any (oh-so-carefully) selected medical practitioner used by them then you know that you get sucked into a system which taints almost everyone it touches with corruption so flagrant it’s hard to believe such a thing could be possible in hyper-regulated modern Britain.
All the current platitudes coming from Parliamentary candidates in the upcoming election and media focus about police numbers is so ignorantly abstract when it really boils down to the realism of what happens to those injured on duty that face the system.
The system is run so that a very small band of favoured occupational health companies provide nearly all the SMP services used by police pension authorities. They have cornered the market, with the active connivance of the NWEF. They get their snouts in the trough, grab as much public money as they can, and leave the patsies in HR to take the flak. Outsourcing is the new game now, with forces handing over what should be their responsibilities to private limited companies whose morals and ethos are moulded entirely around the bottom line of the balance sheet.
Even the police medical appeal boards (PMABs) are outsourced to a limited company, Health Management Limited (HML).
Occupational health doctors who act as SMPs mirror HML and set up their limited companies in dubious, but no doubt tax-efficient, manner.
We see that commercial basis as being the driver which impels some SMPs to revel in creating unjustified appeals, by flagrantly disregarding the Regulations and case law, as a means to further their pay-packet in attendance costs. They know that a PMAB will either side with their crass decisions or make a new one. Either way, this lets the SMP off the hook. If there is a judicial review, it is the PMAB and the police pension authority who appear as respondents. The SMP is left free to continue their abuse of the law and of vulnerable and damaged individuals.
Some of these decidely dodgy SMPs work in tandem with a more malevolent master. For instance, Dr Jonathan Broome. He is Northumbria’s resident SMP, and seems to be going for the world-record of mentions in High Court decisions purely because he is unable, or unwilling, to say no to his colleague, the solicitor of Northumbria police, Nicholas Wirz. Ever eager to push their own twisted and perverse take of the Regulations to judges, the dreadful duo are evidently so cold-hearted they never care about the morality.
But morality matters. Ethics is not just a necessary but inconsequential something which SMPs have sworn to when taking the Hippocratic oath. Some SMPs have abandoned the first ethical principle – to do no harm. For that alone their failures need to be challenged.
But would you believe that there is a “Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales” which actually applies to people like Broome or Dr William Cheng, even if they are only a fleeting and temporary SMP gun-for-hire?
Quite by accident, we’ve discovered that the College of Policing’s code of ethics actually stretches itself to cover any person engaged in any work for any police force. Subcontractors are covered and it matters not if the contract agreement to provide the SMP service is verbal, written in stone, toilet paper, carefully scribed in blood, is on vellum or scribbled on the back of a fag packet.
Here it is:
1.3 Scope of the Code
This includes all those engaged on a permanent,
temporary, full-time, part-time, casual,
consultancy, contracted or voluntary basis.
The code of ethics demands honesty, courtesy, equality, the ability to follow the Police Regulations and confidentiality. Let’s look at the scope and detail, and wonder as we do so just how the likes of Broome, Cheng, Nightingale and others square this code with their behaviour.
|Standards of professional behaviour|
|1. Honesty and integrity I will be honest and act with integrity at all times, and will not compromise or abuse my position. 4||6. Duties and responsibilities I will be diligent in the exercise of my duties and responsibilities.|
|2. Authority, respect and courtesy I will act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy. I will use my powers and authority lawfully and proportionately, and will respect the rights of all individuals.||7. Confidentiality I will treat information with respect, and access or disclose it only in the proper course of my duties.|
|3. Equality and diversity I will act with fairness and impartiality. I will not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly.||8. Fitness for work I will ensure, when on duty or at work, that I am fit to carry out my responsibilities.|
|4. Use of force I will only use force as part of my role and responsibilities, and only to the extent that it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances.||9. Conduct I will behave in a manner, whether on or off duty, which does not bring discredit on the police service or undermine public confidence in policing.|
|5. Orders and instructions I will, as a police officer, give and carry out lawful orders only, and will abide by Police Regulations.I will give reasonable instructions only, and will follow all reasonable instructions.||10. Challenging and reporting improper behaviour I will report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below the standards of professional behaviour|
Stop laughing at the back!
If ever the maladministration of injury awards is adapted into a corrupted game of bingo, you could call house immediately in the above top ten of naughtiness.
By all accounts the code of ethics has guidance on what to do when the code is breached.
Behaviour that does not uphold the policing principles or which falls short of the expected standards of professional behaviour set out in this Code of Ethics will be dealt with:
• according to the severity and impact of any actual, suspected or alleged breach • at the most appropriate level • in a timely and proportionate manner in order to maintain confidence in the process.
For the worst offenders the College of Policing states that the most serious allegations amounting to gross misconduct can result in suspension from duty or restriction of duty, and may involve a criminal investigation and criminal proceedings.
The trouble we have here is the age old problem of who is the custodian of the custodians? Who does an aggrieved person report a breach of the code of ethics to? Of course, you guessed it – the relevant police force or policing organisation you are complaining about. This is such a sick joke, for all Chief Constables are the police pension authority in their own area, so, under the rules of natural justice should not be allowed to decide any matter in which they have a vested interest. Yet they do. And when they do, they of course always, without fail, decide there is no case to answer. Nobody has done anything wrong. Nobody is to blame. Nothing to see here, move along.
If the local professional standards department cuffs away the complaint or calls you vexatious for having the cheek to tell them their own colleagues are dabbling with corruption then it goes to Britain’s police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission or IPCC.
the Commission is overloaded with appeal cases; serious cases involving police corruption or misconduct are left under-investigated, while the Commission devotes resources to less serious complaints; and public trust continues to be undermined by the IPCC’s dependence on former officers and the investigative resources of police forces.
The IPCC has been slated in the influential Parliamentary report that accuses the IPCC of being overloaded with cases, leaving cases un-investigated, of having no real power and of too often using former policemen as supposedly “independent” investigators.
For us though, it matters not whether the IPCC is fit for purpose. Concerns about the effectiveness or willingness of the IPCC should never be an excuse to not formally report a breach of the College of Policing’s code of ethics. Quite the opposite. Any contravention of this code by any person, working in any facility, needs to be officially reported and recorded to the relevant PSD department.
The volume of complaints can not all be deflected away into a dusty draw of a battered filing cabinet stored in the broom cupboard.
IODPA says this to all injured on duty pensioners.
If a HR minion makes an unlawful threat to remove your injury award, report them under the code.
If a SMP has breached confidentiality of your sensitive medical data, report them to the ICO, GMC and make a formal complaint for contravening the code.
Quite soon the lid will blow off the racket of maladministration of injury awards. The subsequent inquiry will look, through hindsight, at the College of Policing and all responsible Chief Constables and how they allowed such rampant disregard of their own ethical standards.