Coming together is a beginning: keeping together is progress; working together is success
― Henry Ford
As 2017 draws to a close we at IODPA have been reflecting on events over the last year.
Before we summarise what has been a most busy, productive and successful year for all involved with IODPA, we pause to salute all IOD pensioners who have joined IODPA. Some have bravely fought individual battles with wayward HR departments and Chief Constables.
For Many of you 2017 has been intensely stressful. We pledge to work tirelessly to help ensure all IOD pensioners are not Scrooged by their respective police pension authorities.
We also offer our best wishes and seasonal greetings to all in HR departments across this fair land who have continued to actively oppose the scope and purposes of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.
We anticipate that 2018 will be the year when you all come to your senses, recover your moral core and pledge to act not only lawfully but with care and compassion for disabled former officers. IODPA to you is the ghost of Christmas past, present and future. Watch and learn. Absorb and change.
2017 saw IODPA and individuals achieve many successes in various areas in the arena of police injury pension maladministration: a significant judicial review won; one force abruptly stopped their mass review programme whilst another one started them up; IODPA became an official charity and continues to grow at a rate of knots; our membership base grew rapidly; we arrived firmly on the radar of all forces, and we know that our blogs are read and circulated widely.
Let’s look at the year now closing and review all it has produced for us.
2017 began extremely well with the first judicial review (JR) of the year. In FEBRUARY, former Police Constable Stanley Fisher took his former force, Northumbria, to Leeds Admin Court, and won the two main points his legal team, Ron Thompson of Haven Solicitors and David Lock QC, put forward.
Mr Fisher’s successful JR addressed highly important issues with universal application and has huge implications for all Injured on Duty Pensioners.
We admire Mr Fisher’s strength in continuing his fight with his former force. The so-called regulation 37 review of his degree of disablement by Northumbria was one of the longest ‘reviews’ to have been conducted, stretching eleven years in total.
APRIL saw Staffordshire drop a bombshell announcement on their pensioners that they were rolling out a mass review programme.
This had the effect of IODPA increasing membership numbers hugely as Staffordshire pensioners, concerned at what lay ahead of them, joined in their droves.
In JUNE, the next big news to hit us was the unexpected announcement by Avon and Somerset Constabulary that they were stopping their review programme. They had spent the previous three years unlawfully reviewing a cynically selected handful of pensioners, who are predominantly all band fours and under the age of fifty. (No prizes for working out why this particular group of people were picked on.)
The news from A&S was welcomed by all their pensioners. However, there was a lot of disgust at how some pensioners who had been in the review process for over three years have never received any any apology for the distress the force had caused.
In JULY, Ron Thompson gave a press release which revealed how Merseyside Constabulary had agreed to a Consent Order regarding the issue pensioners receiving demands to provide full lifetime medical notes to the police pension authority and SMP, and the issuing of intrusive and threatening questionnaires.
A pensioner had had his IOD pension taken away from him as what appeared to be an extra-regulatory punishment for not providing the said documents.
Mr Thompson’s services was engaged and very soon after, Merseyside signed the order and the pensioner’s money was reimbursed and payment of his pension recommenced.
The summer saw IODPA launch their first Crowdfunding campaign. With the generosity of the public, we raised over £4,200. The funds have already helped to support a number of pensioners, who have expressed their grateful thanks.
In SEPTEMBER, IODPA became a registered charity. This was the highlight of our year. It marks years of dedication to supporting Injured pensioners and serving officers and it was wonderful to be acknowledged as a charity.
Also in SEPTEMBER, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) gave advice to an IODPA member regarding his former force retaining full medical notes ‘just in case’ they might be needed The ICO advised that this was excessive retention of sensitive personal data and Avon and Somerset Constabulary was asked to return all medical notes back to the pensioner.
This was an instance of the ICO looking at the full facts and giving reasonable and advice, which should in theory apply to all forces. The ICO’s advice gave hope to a number of former officers that they could also ask for their personal and sensitive data to be returned to them. Sadly, many pensioners are still in dispute with their former forces over this issue.
NOVEMBER saw IODPA’s first collaboration with another charity, Upledger. Five IODPA members who suffer with PTSD went on an intensive five day therapy course which has helped them to develop ways of living with their mental injury. All who attended report that the course was extremely beneficial and has helped them immensely moving forward.
IODPA was able to financially help the members to attend the course of which we are very proud of.
NOVEMBER also saw eminent QC Mr David Lock, write two very relevant comment pieces on his Linkedin page, in relation to IOD reviews and the processes surrounding them.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, they were read by thousands of people, showing that this issue concerns a vast number of the public.
In DECEMBER, Northumbrian Federation Rep, Inspector Adrian Smiles, released ICO advice, again, regarding the subject of medical notes. This time, it was about Northumbria (and other forces) demanding pensioners full medical notes on review. Once again, the ICO stated that this was excessive and that Northumbria were potentially breaching the Data Protection Act.
Also in DECEMBER, we were able to break the news that Dr Vivian, the chosen SMP for Staffordshire, had abruptly withdrew from conducting reviews, citing that doing them was proving too stressful and burdensome. This was indeed hot news, particularly as Dr Vivian notified IODPA direct to inform us.
Leading on from Dr Vivian’s abrupt departure, just before Christmas, Chief Constable Gareth Morgan of Staffordshire Police, released an open letter astoundingly stating that he believe reviews were being conducted lawfully. He went on to claim, with no evidence or explanation that there was a campaign by a small number of individuals which was trying to ‘besmirch’ the reputation of Staffordshire Police.
His letter was felt to be intimidating and threatening by many and stands as a remarkable insight into the peculiar defensive and negative mindset of this individual. It brought the year to a close and stiffened our resolve to stand up for the rights of IOD pensioners and to deflate the enormous egos of all bullies who think they are above the law.
We in IODPA look forward to what 2018 might bring. We are confident that it will be twelve months of continuing success and growth.