Collusion by Human Resources

Who shall set a limit to the influence of a Human Being?

Waldo Emerson

 

Had the poet been around today, he might have mused over the influence of Human Resources (‘HR’) managers.

In this blog we take a look at another Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) case and reflect on how the events and decisions made echo the experiences of too many disabled former officers.

The focus is on the dubious and what surely must be unlawful practice by some HR employees of exerting undue influence on the regulatory decisions made by Selected Medical Practitioners (‘SMPs’).

We could also say that some SMPs are more than willing to be influenced.

The case we briefly explore is the 2015 hearing of Ramphal v Department for Transport UKEAT/0352/14.

Here is the full report:

Mr_I_R_Ramphal_v_Department_for_Transport_UKEAT_0352_14_DA

 

Mr Ramphal was an employee of the Department of Transport. There was a disciplinary hearing to investigate possible misconduct in relation to the expenses Mr Ramphal had claimed and his use of hire cars.

Mr Goodchild, a manager with the Department of Transport, was appointed to conduct the investigation. Mr Goodchild was supposed to act as an independent and disinterested party, and he initially produced a draft of his findings of his investigation report, including his opinion that the misuse of hire cars was “not deliberate” and that the explanations given by the claimant in respect of expenditure on petrol were “plausible”. Mr Goodchild’s first report concluded that Mr Ramphal was guilty of misconduct rather than gross misconduct and that he should be given a final written warning as to his future conduct.

There then followed meetings of HR with Mr Goodchild as a result of which the report was amended with the findings in favour of Mr Ramphal removed. The report now concluded that Mr Ramphal’s conduct amounted to to gross misconduct and recommended that he be summarily dismissed.

The matter went to an Employment Tribunal, which held that Mr Ramphal had been fairly dismissed.

Mr Ramphal appealed on grounds that the investigating officer’s recommendations had been heavily influenced by input from Human Resources. The advice Mr Goodchild was given by HR was not limited to matters of law and procedure, and level of appropriate sanctions with a view to achieving consistency, but extended to issues of the claimant’s credibility and level of culpability.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal found in favour of Mr Ramphal, stating that employment judge had failed to apply the decision of the Supreme Court in Chabra v West London Mental Health NHS Trust [2013], which set out guidelines on the role of HR in disciplinary investigations. In particular, HR’s advice should be limited essentially to matters of law and procedure, as opposed to questions of culpability, which are reserved for the investigating officer.

A vitally important principle was drawn on by the EAT, namely that an employee against whom allegations of misconduct are made has an implied contractual right to a fair process. By interfering with what should have been an impartial decision by Mr Goodchild, the fairness of the investigation and hearing had been undermined.

This principle translates readily across to the role of the SMP, who is an appointed medical professional tasked by a Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’) to make a decision concerning the pension of a serving or retired officer.

Yet we hear, on a regular basis, accounts describing how HR employees interfere with what should be an independent and impartial decision. There appears to be a complete lack of understanding in some forces that there is a firm line between offering a SMP advice on the law and procedure and inserting HR into the actual decision-making process.

By way of example, and this is a very common occurrence, HR gather in information, often in contravention of data protection law, on an individual’s financial and other circumstances. They then present the SMP with often ludicrous opinion on what jobs and what earnings the individual might be capable of. In this way they influence the SMP’s decision on the individual’s degree of disablement.

Such practice is appalling, but worse examples exist. We know of one case where a HR manager colluded with a SMP to alter the decision of a Home Office appointed medical referee. The referee had decided a certain level of degree of disablement, and this decision was altered to a lower level of disablement, and thus a lower level of pension payment.

We also know of another instance where a HR manager ‘advised’ a SMP to follow their recommendation that the injury pension of a disabled former officer be reduced from the highest level of payment to the lowest.

In a Northwest force, they took things even further, and had an civilian employee deciding the degree of disablement of individuals and then having the SMP put his name to a decision which the SMP had no part in forming.

The Regulations require that a PPA refer ‘for decision’ to a duly qualified medical practitioner certain matters. Clearly, when a PPA hands that responsibility to a SMP it must step back and let the SMP form their own opinion, without influence and without interference. This simply is not happening in some forces.

IODPA believes it is time all police pension authorities take a close look at the processes which HR departments have constructed around the way in which medical decisions are made. Police Pension Authorities  need to take steps to ensure HR managers and SMPs are better informed and instructed on the limits of advice and how to prevent interaction between SMP and HR dragging them down into a quicksand of unlawful unfairness caused by undue influence.

Collusion by Human Resources
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25 thoughts on “Collusion by Human Resources

  • 2019-03-09 at 4:17 pm
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    Micah has hit the nail on the head, i’m an IOD from Staffordshire Police and I would trust the worst criminals I came into contact with more than Morgan and his sidekicks coley..etc…at least they committed their wrongdoing without hiding behind their positions/departments, I would not trust anyone in senior management or Hr / occ health within Staffs Police ever again, they lost any faith I had in them along time ago.

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  • 2019-03-07 at 3:06 pm
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    Excellent blog piece as usual.
    I could never see the point of selecting some random stranger from the HR or admin department, who didn’t know me, had never met me, did not know what medical condition or disability I have, did not know whether there were any symptoms which applied to my capacity to work, was tasked to find 3 random jobs and state that I could get those jobs.
    In my case, at least 2 of the jobs identified by the random stranger were jobs I would have to completely re train for – and my disability meant I would struggle with the only available training for said jobs. All 3 of the random jobs selected by the random stranger were jobs which required me to work at set times of the day, and disability symptoms would mean that I could work part time and seasonally at best.
    The SMP (Cheng) even stated that if I want to work again I would have to open a business – which would also require me to retrain – then promptly gave me a band 2. That made no sense either considering that statement effectively deemed me unemployable !!

    The whole thing is beyond ridiculous – none of it makes sense or reason !

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  • 2019-03-07 at 9:38 am
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    I’ve had first hand experience of HR influencing the SMP’s review report to meet their agenda – the crossings out and re-writing of portions of the report in different handwriting to that of the SMP’s.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the force has conveniently “lost” this amended report. It didn’t look good for them. ! still have my copy.

    As another poster said, a few rogue forces seem hell bent on opening up a Pandora’s Box here, by setting pensioner against police. Don’t they realise that their dark practices of the past could have remained in the closet? Few would have known. But instead, these practices are now seeing the light of day in the public forum. More than likely, more will follow. It’s the law of unintended consequences.

    Can’t they see that they’re taking a wrecking ball to their own financial dam? So far, their incompetence and hubris has only served to create case law that works against them, exposed their devious tactics, and cemented seething contempt between injured pensioners and the police.

    Is it any wonder that pensioners under review are now so reticent about giving their forces anything other than the bare minimum information?

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  • 2019-03-06 at 9:19 pm
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    How independent could an SMP be when they work for an agency that is retained by a police force? It is time using agencies was stopped and went back to where it used to be with local GP’s acting as Force Medical Advisers. Just imagine how much more expensive to use an agency whose bills have to be paid too!

    As for the HR staff I know from my own experience how 2 faced and how deceiving they can be and how they can bully!

    It i time that the whole police procedure with IOD pensioners was investigated and dealt with legally. These are actual crimes they are committing.
    IODPA is uncovering lots of these antics and IOD pensioners are now becoming more aware of the frauds that are involved in ‘reviews’ and are fighting back!

    It is time these forces were put in front of Courts for their maladministration and fraudulent goings on with IOD pensioner awards and ‘reviews’.
    By the way, the word ‘review’ does not appear ANYWHERE in the Regulations!

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  • 2019-03-06 at 9:04 pm
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    Corrupt….bent….crooked…call it what you will but rest assured this malpractice by HR departments and there paymasters is a fact of life. However thanks to the IODPA this sorry state of affairs will sooner or later come to an end. I know that a certain HR person in a certain shire force had decided what job
    I would be capable of should, when, the SMP made his decision. Unfortunately he didn’t make a decision. However this didn’t deter them. They have made a decision that I am capable of work and what type of job I would be suited to completely contrary to the medical evidence I presented at the review. They didnt stop there though. As I have another problem which on it’s own would have no effect on my capability to work they have made a medical decision, although not medically trained. They decided that this problem would affect my earning capacity. This nicely reduced my injury pension to zero. Since when have HR been able to make medical decisions. They know better than my own medical professional or so they would have you believe. You couldn’t make it up even if you tried.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 6:35 pm
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    Highlighting what is happening in several Forces………..

    I can hear the shredders in some Forces working overtime. I wonder if they (mistakenly) think the SMP’s will defend them in future ET’s and JR’’s?

    What a dilemma, disclose as per Data Protection Laws or not and hope on a wing and a prayer that the IOD pensioner is isolated, vulnerable and does not have a scoobies they are being shafted (again) by their Force.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 5:18 pm
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    The process has gone beyond maladministration and simply not adhering to the Police Injury Regulations. This is clearly a determined intention to circumvent those regulations to cheat Injured on Duty pensioners of their allowance.
    Failure to correctly apply the Regulations is bad enough but to deliberately circumvent them with intent to achieve a desired outcome to the financial detriment of a person is quite another, never mind the incredible stress and worry being inflicted by this corrupt action.
    For the Police of all to be acting in this manner is incredible, this is a very grave situation.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 5:05 pm
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    Superb blog as usual iodpa.

    Seems to me, particularly looking at the situation in Staffs that the entire process is HR driven, rather than on the basis of medical opinion. From the outset, they have had a ‘single point of contact’, Andrew Coley, whose job title is merely ‘HR Support’. There is no evidence of any supervisory oversight. The entire process appears to be driven and directed by Coley, the role of medical experts being entirely peripheral with strings being pulled to suit the agenda of Coley and his masters, should actually have any.

    Use of the last SMP, Nightingale in particular was utterly farcical, it appears quite obvious that Nightingale’s emigration to the other side of the world was a known factor in her appointment, putting her ‘decisions’ (not that she appears to have made any) and conduct beyond question or professional sanction. If this isn’t clear evidence of HR manipulation of an SMP to suit their own ends then I would like to know what is!

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  • 2019-03-06 at 4:38 pm
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    We need one HR staff member to be brought up on criminal charges. Conspiracy/fraud.
    It’s about time we used criminal law that we are all familiar with rather than trying to fit ourselves into the civilian side.
    It’s the only thing that will open their eyes to what they are doing.
    The severity of what they do is far beyond that of burden of proof.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 3:31 pm
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    Definitely the need to submit a SAR on both the force and the doctor on the day of the assessment to try to establish if inappropriate collision has taken place. By doing it at the appointment will put the doctor on the spot and hopefully get an honest response.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 12:42 pm
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    I have seen collusion between HR, Smp’s And force doctors. I my case I have written evidence that they had all decided that my banding was too high before I had even seen or been reviewed. This evidence all came out at a lengthy ET that was settled prior to the main hearing.
    HR seem to be unable to keep their hands off personal and confidential records and it continues to this day. I believe that it is openly encouraged that HR staff and SMP’s trawl through records to find something to reduce awards when they have no authority to do so.
    One day a very lonely HR person will be stood in the dock trying to justify why they have breached acts and laws to gain information that they aren’t entitled to. I hope that this day will be soon.

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    • 2019-03-06 at 6:41 pm
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      Not only can HR not keep their hands off our sensitive data, they also could not careless who they share it with…….. all that confidential information passed around the office on their coffee breaks………. leaks like a sieve!

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  • 2019-03-06 at 11:27 am
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    Just another in a long line of abuse of power and position, and the regulations that the whole of the administration of Injury on Duty awards is and has been subject to for many years.
    In my particular case, I have copies of documents where the SMP asks the Superintendent Head of HR to take into account the injury and inability to do certain things, and to estimate my loss of earnings depending on my qualifications and experience and what jobs she thought I could undertake in the open market. He would then APPLY those figures in reaching a final figure of loss of earnings related to injury disability.
    So the SMP is asking the Superintendent to make a medical judgement based on my disability, about my ability to perform certain employment roles and produce loss of earning figures which without any further thought or question he would use.
    Of course the Head of HR then tasks a HR assistant to “carry out an earnings assessment for me and to return the figures to the SMP.”
    You just couldn’t make this stuff up. A HR assistant is now responsible for deciding my level of disablement, and earnings capacity.
    This of course was normal practice and for all we know still may be.
    But the genie is now out of the bottle. Pandora’s box has been opened. How they will rue the day that they ever started the latest round of reviews which has lead to us finding the evidence of this systematic fraudulent behavior. We are going after them, and the clock is ticking

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  • 2019-03-06 at 11:17 am
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    We used to all believe that our forces were honest,now in recent times,with certain shall we say (although tongue in cheek) that the alleged leadership we have now found,have their own itinerary,one which I’m sure they believe leads them to greater power and money. However,that last word…money,that’s the crux of the matter,for them to make more they have to take it,usually from the lowest and most weak. So,Iod’s,those that gave everything fall into the firing line,easy pickings they think as basically they now feel that iod’s are nothing more than malingering wasters,who have probably lived too long and not the hero’s of the job who gave everything to help and protect. So the leadership bullies,buys or whatever the break the rules,reinterpret regulations to fit their personal needs. HR depts ( of certain forces)now seem to control and make the rules,and it doesn’t matter who they run ramrod over. This is a disgrace and sooner or later they have to face the their failures and the criminal offences they have committed.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 11:11 am
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    Suffice to say the sooner this all comes to an end the better, the agression, deceit, manipulation etc etc of all the processes and maladministration being used (but thankfully tested by way of judicial review) only adds weight to the the content of this important blog, which incidentally is only a small part of the processes being used and explored by Police Forces to ‘Save Cash’ nothing more, nothing less…saving money at all costs without any consideration to IODS and their families. The longer term impacts of this will take some getting over, even if it all stops today. Furthermore the treatment of IODS is starting to gain increasing concerns amongst the already stressed and stretched remaining officer. Exactly where this will all end up I do not know, but I do have real concerns for policing of our future generations. Surely it must be fast approaching the time when the legal costs of this process is outweighed by the savings to be gained ?? I’ve posted before and will repeat that I look forward to the day that this is over, and I/we can get on with our retirement.at which point I sincerely hope that a large dose of Karma pays a visit to the perpetrators of this whole process…(omnishambles) seems a good description.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 10:38 am
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    All so true, so true! It appears to have become established practice for members of HR or Occupational Health Unit to ‘advise’ the SMP, when they are really informing their desired outcome. I have evidence (verbal admission and a document from a subject access request) of when the SMP’s decision is not in accordance with their wishes, they request the report be changed. CORRUPT is the only word for it. Whilst the SMP may be subject to GMC scrutiny, HR staff sail off to pastures new. Similar practice operates at Police Medical Appeal Board level – in which I have no confidence – with communication known to take place outside the hearing between SMPs and board members.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 8:56 am
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    It is hardly surprising that certain HR personnel behave in this way when many of them are influenced by dubious ‘legal’ advice handed out at NWEF (NAMF) meetings which they or their bosses attend. The prime suspect for issuing this warped version of law and procedure is a quack solicitor who has gained a reputation for losing when challenged in court. It is a disgrace that this situation has been allowed to develop and Chief Officers who have played along with this collusion are ultimately to blame. Thanks to the formation of IODPA we now have an effective network to challenge their unlawful actions and PPAs need to recognise this and start mending their ways and choosing their legal advisors more carefully.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 8:41 am
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    These people do not care and are the lowest of the low. One day I hope they find themselves in the same position as injured cops.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 7:47 am
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    An excellent blog IODPA.

    Why does this not surprise me?! A North East Force HR department also exerts, influences and uses this ‘unfair and unlawful’ method of recommendation to the SMP. Who would believe that HR recommends the of reduction of banding!.

    I would recommend applying for a Subject Access Request, it’s amazing what turns up, (if they comply to Data Protection you should receive all the correspondence under Data Protection GDPR) evidencing levels of maladministration and unlawful conduct that I have never in my life witnessed before, even as a serving police officer.

    I would be ashamed if I was an HR Manager or Director in any Force that did this action, Personally, I would be looking to exit the organisation before it becomes common knowledge that they were so incompetent, they frequently carried out unlawful, unfair recommendations, with regards breaching the Regulations, Law and let’s not forget the Data Protection, which also calls in to question their legal advice from internal lawyers.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 7:12 am
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    It is no surprise to IOD retired officers as we have witnessed the pressure and collusion first hand during their IOD process.
    I was aware of my force attempting to influence the decision of the SMP indirectly on paper but also over the telephone where any conversation is not recorded..
    My SMP initially suggested was to be reviewed after a period of 3 years however after communicating with my force this was reduced to 2 years.
    It is clear after reading emails between head of HR and the SMP certain implications.
    It has been proven on many occasions the influence placed on these medical professionals who should be independent however this can never happen as they are either contracted to a force or paid by the force for the report.
    As this is the case the SMP s are obliged to work in favour with the requirements of their customers ie police forces and this will always go against not for the injured on duty pensioners.
    How is it possible for SMPs to act independently if they are paid / subcontracted by police forces.
    This collusion is illegal and should not be allowed to continue.
    HR depts ultimately are making medical decisions without any medical qualifications at all in an effort to save money or to progress their careers.
    This has been going on too long and must stop !
    It’s a national disgrace.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 12:36 am
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    Well a good number of innocent IOD’s, certainly know about this sort of thing, as in a specific Midland force, a mere HR Assistant seems to be able to delve into all sorts of confidential information at will and then make decisions on what the IOD Pensioner is capable of doing as a job, if they were not injured. This Assistant, not satisfied with this interference, then goes much further and advises Legal Services on interpretations of the law & SMP’s on how to do their job!

    Funny thing is that the IOD’s have it in writing from the particular PPA, that this assistant, is simply that and does not make any decisions, although the IOD’s seem to have firm evidence to the contrary in spades!

    However, the ‘vultures are now starting to circle’ this particular ‘carcass’, which means that other HR/OH staff realising the danger, promptly exit stage left.

    Is the assistant sweating? Will the assistant be left standing in the middle of a circle alone, whilst the Soux Indians circle around him like Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn?

    Remember, his past misdemeanors are now becoming so obvious that public knowledge is increasing, as you can only collude so much before a trail is clearly seen. Something a SMP down South is also recognising!

    Don’t be surprised if, as you pass by the Police HQ, you see a pall of smoke over the HR Department, as it is only a matter of time, till this confabulation expert try’s to hide the evidence.

    Like most ‘crooks’, who think themselves ‘fireproof’, it’s too late for these conspirators, the Courts will soon see through the sham being presented as a lawful endeavour and will deliver justice to those innocent IOD’s, who having told them the truth and trusted them to be honourable, found out these peoples true intentions and their total lack of decency.

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  • 2019-03-06 at 12:32 am
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    These findings by the IODPA are all well & good (& make very interesting reading for the most part). However, does the IODPA ever lay them before all the PPA’S for their information & (hopefully) action?

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    • 2019-03-06 at 12:50 pm
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      The comment regarding (and makes very interesting reading for the most part)is a bit unjust to be honest. Iodpa assists members and groups of members in getting this kind of information before PPA’s in the form of employment tribunals and have been successful in doing so.
      A direct approach to PPA’s does not usually prove fruitful as they are not interested in dealing with IOD’s in the correct manner and within the law and regulations.
      I think most would agree that the work by this group is one in progress and the successes outweigh the losses. But as a side I am sure that if you have any ideas on how to either present or interest PPA’s in the malpractices of HR’s IODPA would be more than interested in listening. And that is not a dig but a genuine query.

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    • 2019-03-06 at 6:38 pm
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      Russ, the IODPA are too busy trying to help the IOD pensioner victims to keep on and on and on and on at the PPA’s involved in doing this stuff. The forces involved ignore everything that does not have legal letters after the signatures! Remember IODPA is a charity and the funds are vital. More important for legal battles than wasting time trying to educate committed HR’s and CC’s!

      Most of the antics played are done under instructions from the top dog! There are a few Police employees, legal advisors, Police high rankers, etc who are doing these practical exercises to see how far they can go and get away with it. Their hopes are that they will finally be accepted by all police forces and save tons of money so that their salaries and bonuses can be increased without having to worry about their own pensions. THEY were not injured on the job! They haven’t a clue!

      Eventually through IODPA and their fabulous legal teams ALL will be done purely and simply according to the Police Injury Pensions Regulations.
      Russ, have you ever tried to contact a specific department of any of the offending police forces? Telephone number? Email address? Mailing address other than the main one? (expensive!)

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  • 2019-03-06 at 12:07 am
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    Sadly this type of behaviour has been going on far too long and the forces concerned have been getting away with it. Hopefully this matter will be bought before a court and a decision in favour of the injured officers will stop this from happening ever again. Sadly though by then the treatment the officers and families have endured will leave it’s mark on those concerned. It will also drive once loyal officers to their particular forces away from that force and those officers will never trust that force ever again. A very sad state of affairs and only the forces will be too blame. Shame on you.

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