Month: August 2017

NWEF Conference falls victim to lack of attendees

NWEF Conference falls victim to lack of attendees

National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF)  June 2017 didn’t happen!

A brief trawl of the Foreign Office’s travel advice for HR types thinking of paying a visit to Newcastle City Centre Police Station, Newcastle Upon Tyne Friday 9th June 2017 at 10am probably didn’t warn people that’s it’s not the best idea to attend a NWEF conference hosted by Northumbria police – with the ever present threat of catching a serious infectious disease which, once it has control of a person, causes them to spew forth incoherent babble from the bowels of the voicebox.

National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF) JUNE 2017 – a Freedom of Information request to Northumbria Police

Please provide full disclosure of the following: National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF) – Northumbria Police The meeting was held Friday 9th June 2017 at 10am, Newcastle City Centre Police Station, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Of course, we don’t think the the meeting was cancelled due to a contagious lurgy.  All HR minions love to go on an extravagant all-expenses paid junket.  So why didn’t the June 2017 NWEF-fest go ahead?  Apparently no-one wanted to go!

In response to your request above, The National Wellbeing and Engagement
Forum (NWEF) meeting scheduled for June 2017 was cancelled due to the
limited availability of members.Northumbria Police Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor

Perhaps the acolytes of Wirz are becoming disbelievers…

 

 

 

What we do

What we do

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
― Karl MarxEleven Theses on Feuerbach

When you’re disabled as a consequence of suffering an injury on duty , supportive and reliable information can change your life. That’s what we do. We empower people to understand their position and the choices available to them.

Our charitable purpose is to “To relieve the need of retired and serving police officers in hardship or distress who are disabled as a consequence of being injured on duty”. Our core aims say this is to be achieved by “campaigning to raise awareness and promote understanding of the correct application of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations so that those retired with injury awards receive fair and lawful treatment, respect, equality and inclusion” and by “exposing and challenging all aspects of illegality, unfair practices and improper conduct at all levels of injury award administration”.

In our posts we regularly explain the narrative of how vulnerable and disabled former officers are being victimised and damaged by the actions (and inactions) of the police pension authorities.   Are our blogs an example of good rhetoric: effective persuasion that influences people? or bad rhetoric: lacking in meaningful content?

Our readership and member numbers are always increasing but the truth of it is that there is no alternative voice.  If not us, then what?

The organisations that exist before IODPA, such as NARPO, only seemed to patch up the effects of the fundamental injustices that are built into the structure and processes of injury award administration.

Help, from this viewpoint – the position of the person with an injury award  – can sometimes be seen as actually accepting the injustice itself, while trying to mitigate the consequences of the injustice.

This is where IODPA differs and why our difference matters.  We accept our small size means we can’t be all things to all men but we say enough is enough.  Using the literacy sense rather than the biblical, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” If this statement is taken all by itself, it seems to imply Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost.  We can’t reach everyone.  We haven’t the resources to help everyone – there are so many problems that are affecting the need of those disabled due to a duty injury that we have to make hard decisions.  Some problems are so complex, so individual and unique, all we can do is refer the poor soul to an eminent solicitor.

The effort put into this charity is devoted to pressuring those in authority to bring about needed change.  Where we can, we help individuals.  At the least we provide knowledge, at the most we give up our time, an ear and listen.

The famous story of the boy and the starfish shows why using charity to fix individual problems can be very valuable.

Once upon a time, a man walking along a beach saw a boy picking up starfish and throwing them into the sea.

He asked the boy why he was throwing starfish into the sea.

The boy replied, “The tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll dry up and die.”

The man smiled patronisingly and said, “But, there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish on every mile. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The boy smiled, bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the sea.

“Well,” he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

Other organisations need not fear us.  We have no illusions for a power grab.  Soon we hope to have full Charity Commission regulatory status as a CIO (charitable incorporated organisation).

Our existence is changing the way people think.  It is becoming harder for forces like Northumbria to aggressively “test the law”, we are closing down the threats given out by HR personnel in their unlawful demands for personal and sensitive medical information.

We are helping people; we are making a difference.

Pension Ombudsman Update Summer 2017

Pension Ombudsman Update Summer 2017

Welcome to our new Pensions Ombudsman Update. These updates are designed to help you get to grips with the Ombudsman’s thinking, to keep track of decisions on matters concerning police and fire service injury awards and non police related injury benefit schemes and to identify underlying trends.

Published in our “news” section, we will try to summarise the interesting decisions of the past three months or so.

John Lewis Partnership Pension Scheme (PO-11695)

Mr N has complained that the Trustee did not take the decision to cease his ill health retirement pension in a proper manner. In particular, he considers it placed too great a reliance on the advice from its own occupational health physician and did not give reasons for preferring her advice.

In PO-11695 Mr N (17 May 2017) the JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP scheme trustees decided (having used the Trustee’s occupational health physician, Dr Eraneva, to consider medical evidence) that the member’s ill-health pension should be suspended as his condition was not permanent, despite the trustee having decided in 2009 and 2012 that it was. The Ombudsman’s Adjudicator was unable to find evidence of any change in the member’s condition or proposed treatments since those assessments.

The decision made it clear that there is an underlying principle that a pension, once in payment, was payable for life. A natural reading of the John Lewis scheme rule provided discretion to vary, suspend or reinstate pension was one that looked for a rational basis for change. The trustee did not apply its mind to the specific question of whether it should remove the existing entitlement, but took an approach akin to requiring the member to make a fresh application for an incapacity pension. This was maladministration and the trustee was directed to re-consider the decision to suspend the pension.

The Deputy Ombudsman accepted that the John Lewis scheme did not have to continue to pay an incapacity pension if this was no longer justified, but the trustee had to be able to point to a change in the member’s circumstances. The discretion to suspend was not an opportunity for the trustee to change its mind or interfere in its predecessors’ decisions.

Mr N stated that the Trustees placed too great a reliance on the advice from its own occupational health physician (Dr Eraneva) and did not give reasons for preferring her advice.

Whilst saying that it is not the role of the Ombudsman to review the medical evidence, the Deputy Ombudsman said;

but I also have reservations about the standard of proof applied by Dr Eraneva

Our Comment

The John Lewis scheme is a discretionary scheme whereas the police injury benefit Regulations are a statutory scheme. This is not the first time that the Pension Ombudsman has been guided by a purposive view of scheme rules dealing with ill-health. In PO-9309 Mrs R (10 June 2016) the Ombudsman opined that the starting position, where an employer had a discretion to pay a discretionary ill-health enhancement, should be to pay it.

All too often, because of the influence of NWEF , the selected medical practitioners used by police forces consider themselves as quasi-judicial and supposed “judges of fact”.

In fully upholding Mr N’s complaint, the Pension Ombudsman is showing a pattern that the views of the scheme’s own occupational health doctor do not trump the person’s own clinicians.  This is inline with previous decisions, such as the ill-health early retirement of Mr Y (PO-13059) when it was found that the employer’s flawed decision over-relied on its own medical advisers’ opinions.

 

 

 

Northumbria’s Lazarus Syndrome

Northumbria’s Lazarus Syndrome

“Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now”
― David Bowie

Steve Ashman, Chief Constable of Northumbria police, found himself in the news this week.  He dismissed criticism by the NSPCC  of the decision to pay an informant who is a convicted child rapist to secure a set of child grooming convictions.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ashman said: “I accept that some people will not agree with position we have taken, but I have to be content, on the back of the convictions we have secured to date, that it was the right thing to do.”

Our readers understand all too well the the use of informers is a real dilemma … sometimes risks have to be taken and the police have to adopt strategies which at first blush would appear to be awkward and unpleasant. It is a sad fact that any informant who needs to be paid to help the police will be of dubious character, and many will have criminal histories.

It’s newsworthy that the NSPCC – UK’s leading children’s charity feels it wasn’t proportional that a convicted child rapist was paid £9,680 by Northumbria over 21 months to find out about the times and whereabouts of ‘sessions’ where girls were being plied with drugs and alcohol.  The NSPCC are entitled to raise the matter.  We think this is an operational matter for Northumbria to justify. Ashman said the NSPCC had got its facts wrong.

Police had to make a decision and – while unpleasant – if paying a convicted child rapist £10,000 gives the information needed to bring a swift conclusion to another criminal enterprise intent on the sexual abuse and rape of vulnerable children, then it is surely a price worth paying.

There is no nuanced argument, however, that condones how Ashman allows his force, on his watch, to decimate the income of those injured on duty.

That being said, the NSPCC is a victim of the same trite dismissal of a valid concern that is the usual response IODPA has familiarity with when the police defend their actions concerning injury awards. Telling the media the NSPCC has “their facts wrong” is a media soundbite but it helps no-one when concerns are disregarded in this manner.

As with the NSPCC, we in IODPA also are seeking answers from Northumbria.  We would like to know how CC Ashman thinks he can justify the way he is systemically setting about impoverishing severely disabled former officers who are in receipt of an injury pension. The stink rising from Northumbria on this issue is a miasma like that of an untended public toilet.

Police Injury Regs 2006 – a Freedom of Information request to Northumbria Police

Could you please provide the below information regarding the Injury on Duty awards to ex police offices. How many IODs does NP have and please provide a breakdown of each that are in bands 1-4 How Many Reviews have been carried and of what band Whether any were increased.If so by how many bands Whether any Decreased and if so by how many bands Whether any remained the same.

For our readers who aren’t aware of how the amount of injury pension due to officers injured on duty to the extent they can no longer work as a police officer is calculated, there are four bands or levels of payment, each of which covers a range of degree of disablement:  band one covers 0% to 25% (slight disablement); band two more than 25% to 50% (minor); band three is more than 50% to less than 75% (major); band four is the highest band and covers very severe disablement 75% to 100%.

Will Northumbria tell us our facts are wrong?  They can try.  The statistics are theirs.

The amount of pension paid may be revised should an individual experience a substantial improvement, or a substantial worsening, of their degree of disablement. A Chief Constable can conduct a ‘review’ of any individual’s degree of disablement, subject to certain conditions.

In the above Freedom of Information Act request Northumbria police admits to carrying out sixteen reviews from January 2016.

Of the sixteen reviewed, twelve have been decreased.  A shocking 75%.  As horrendous a statistic as this is, it is abhorrent to read that three of those on a band four injury award were reduced to a band one – in other words from the highest degree of disablement to the lowest.  Three other band fours were reduced to a band two and five on a band three were reduced to a band one.

Some context:  Merseyside reviewed 502 by use of quantifying salary only in the enforced compliance of filling out a, now discredited, questionnaire.  Merseyside reduced 25 out of 502 –  5% had their injured award lowered in bands.  Let us remind you that Merseyside had threatened those retired from the force with a review if their salary increased by 10%.  Don’t believe us?  Here is the letter sent by Peter Owens.

So it’s fair to say, as far as the Regulations are administered lawfully, Merseyside fail.  Even still, they only reduced 5% of those reviewed.  Northumbria has reduced 75%

These aren’t just reductions.  This isn’t simply substantial change, an improvement to a person’s degree of disablement that has resulted in a drop of a band – this is wholesale slaughter of the income of those injured on duty.

We can guess that most of the reductions are being made on wrong assumption made by Dr Broome, Northumbria’s SMP, that co-morbidities are competing with the person’s inability to earn. In other words Northumbria is claiming that the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with (that is, concomitant or concurrent with) the recorded duty injury means a person can go from 100% degree of disablement to zero percent.

Likely as not there has been no change to disabling effects of the duty injury in any of these cases. No change to circumstances of the person regards to the capacity to earn.  Northumbria is reducing people who have been band four or three for many years without change, just because they are carrying out a policy to reduce that is unlawful as well as insultingly aggressive. Chief Constable Ashman tells us that he is concerned about protecting vulnerable young girls whilst he is busily engaged on a programme to destroy the pensions of honest, loyal former officers who had the misfortune to be injured whilst performing their duties.

Many of the injury pensioners are vulnerable too. Forget the image of the rufty-tufty copper and picture instead a shell of a human being, reduced to a life of constant anxiety and plagued with flashbacks, insomnia, depression and all the other symptoms that come with a mind damaged beyond repair by the harsh realities of police work.

If the Regulations called for a reduction to the lowest percentage when a person suffers from Parkinson’s disease or a cancer, then it would explicitly say as such.  Northumbria is raising Home Office circular 46/2004 from the grave.  Instead of automatic reduction at 65 years of age, this time a person is reduced when advancing age equates to advancing illnesses.

Or Northumbria has seen a dozen walking miracles.  Either it is unlawful or what is happening in Northumbria could  called by biblical name: the Lazarus effect, after the story in which Jesus stands outside the tomb of Lazarus of Bethany and summons him back to life.

We have heard anecdotal accounts that the Police Federation in Northumbria will never sign off a C2 funding form to provide much-needed legal aid to any injury pensioner who is facing an unlawful reduction of their injury pension.  We say that any reduction from a band four to a zero percent band one should automatically be heard in front of a police medical appeal board (PMAB).

The matter the NSPCC took up with the media isn’t as black and white and there are intricacies to any payment to an informant that has grey areas.  What Northumbria is doing to medically retired former officers has no such complexity.

Northumbria has a policy that is contrary to law and they must be called to account before the misery spreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staffordshire DCC Baker’s questionnaire claim backfires

Staffordshire DCC Baker’s questionnaire claim backfires

Oh dear.

If you just read DCC Baker’s statement to Police Oracle, one could be forgiven for thinking that (a) Staffordshire never, ever would dream of doing “a Merseyside” and reducing a person based on the questionnaire’s answers (b) failure to fill in the questionnaire would never, ever mean that your injury award will be suspended or reduced.

Force will not withhold pensions if ex-officers don’t fill in medical forms

Solicitor warned others over the issue last week following legal action against Merseyside Police. A force which asks retired officers who were injured on duty to fill in medical assessments says the information will not be used to withhold pension payments. Staffordshire Police says it only asks for the process to be followed to make their…

DCC Baker has offered a perfect example of  contrary rhetoric.   It’s very interesting to note what has changed on the Staffordshire website since Police Oracle published this story last week.

Let us see how the Staffordshire website looked two weeks ago using our “wayback machine” – FAQs – Injury Benefit Reassessment – Staffordshire Police 18-07-17” taken from Google web cache.  Oh look! Note the threat to suspend the injury award   

You will be given 28 days to reply…
At the end of that 28 days your injury benefit pension may be suspended or reduced to band 1 if we have no satisfactory reply from you

Oh my! A reply will not serve.  Staffordshire will punish you if you don’t reply “satisfactorily“.  Rather ominous.

And how the same page looks as of today 1st August 2017 …

In a brave new world of bunny rabbits and rainbows, you will now be sent a lovely reminder and then only a failure to attend a medical examination may mean a decision is made.  “As thought necessary” isn’t a concept in the Regulations by the way.

Staffordshire was threatening vulnerable disabled former police officers that non-compliance of failing to return the forms will mean a suspension or an automatic reduction to band one.  They got caught.

Now DCC Baker is telling Police Oracle that this is all made up and Staffordshire would never stoop to such lowly, despicable and unlawful practices.

Hmmm … what were we saying about a perpetually shifting succession of imaginative falsehoods?

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...