Bad law, or a bad law, or bad laws may refer to:
– A law that is oppressive
– A law that causes injustice
– Dumb laws, those laws which are particularly bizarre
Appeal for Justice
Please support our appeal for crowdfunding for this very important cause.
Make NO mistake, this ruling affects EVERY force in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, every pensioner in receipt of an injury award, and EVERY serving officer who may find themselves, being injured on duty.
This appeal is for all serving police officers, all retired officers (with or without an injury pension), the families, friends and supporters of the police service and for anyone else that recognises the dangers that officers face on a daily basis. It is also for those, in the legal profession who recognise bad law, and the implications of allowing such law to remain unchallenged.
A recent court ruling places thousands of police officers up and down the country forced to retire through injury in a position where they have no option to consent on a regular basis to their forces trawling through their personal or private medical data from birth, or risk having their pensions reduced their lowest level. Those injured officers are now leading the fight on behalf of ALL future injured officers and those who are currently retired.
Police officers, on a daily basis, selflessly put themselves in harms way to protect life and property. We have all heard the expression of police officers running into danger when everyone is running away from it. They do this regularly without thinking of the personal consequences to themselves, and thankfully in the vast majority of cases they escape without any serious harm. We know all too well from the news, that on some very sad occasions, officers lose their lives, and there can be a fine line between these officers and those, who survive but end up with life changing injuries.
Many, having dedicated their entire lives to policing, will be forced to retire early with ill-health retirement as they are no longer able to perform operational duties. If their permanent injures affect their future earning capacity, they may be granted an additional injury pension to compensate for their inability to earn what they may have been able to, were it not for those injuries.
This additional pension is paid under the The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 (‘The Regulations’), and is only awarded after careful scrutiny by a doctor. There are four bands within The Regulations, with highest band being awarded to the most affected, and which in turn attracts a higher pension.
Once awarded, The Regulations allow police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to periodically review these pensions to ensure that the correct level of award is maintained. We’ve yet to meet an injured pensioner who disagrees with being reviewed to ensure that they are given the correct level of award as long as the review is conducted properly, fairly and impartially. Sadly this is not generally the case and injured officers are mostly treated with contempt by the doctors.
The decision when to review is discretionary and down to each Chief Constable who act in a secondary role called the Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’). They appoint a doctor with a title of Selected Medical Practitioner (‘SMP’) to carry out a medical examination who have to determine whether there has been a ‘substantial change’ in the condition of the pensioner since their last examination. This period for consideration is already set out in existing case law.
We have, in recent years, seen a number of forces conduct a worrying trend of what can only be described as an unrelenting assault on these pensioners with review programs designed for only one purpose, and that is to reduce the pensions of these courageous officers in order to save money from their budgets.
There is notably a handful of Chief Constables, HR mangers, solicitors and SMPs who are constantly dreaming up inventive new ways to interpret, (or misinterpret we should say) The Regulations for no other reason than to reduce these pensions. How they sleep at night, we just don’t know.
We believe that members of the public would be shocked and disgusted, if they knew about some the way in which some of these unscrupulous individuals operate. The public seem to have this preconceived idea that police officers are well looked after by their forces should the worst happen to them and ‘they look after their own’. It causes us much dismay to shatter this illusion.
Whilst it is true that some pensioners, when no longer exposed to the policing environment may, to a degree recover, these are in the minority, and many have to battle with the scars of their physical and mental disabilities for the rest of their lives.
At the moment, it is a small number of forces that appear to have no respect for their former officers and one such force is Staffordshire. In April 2017, they sent out letters to every pensioner in receipt of an injury award, informing them that they were all to under go reviews. Despite this decision predating the appointment of a new Chief Constable it coincided with Gareth Morgan arriving at the force from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary who had themselves been conducting reviews for the previous three years. Was it any coincidence that as Gareth Morgan left Avon & Somerset, the new Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, brought reviews to a halt?
Despite The Regulations placing no obligation on the former officers under review to provide personal and private medical notes, Staffordshire Police demanded that they hand over a complete set of their doctors notes from birth. They also demanded that other personal and private information be disclosed in the form of a questionnaire.
The officers contested that these demands were wholly excessive and breached their human rights as they weren’t measured or proportionate to the purpose of the review. The only obligation that the regulations placed upon the pensioners was that they ‘submit [themself] to such medical examination or to attend such interviews’, which they all did by attending a prearranged medical appointment with a SMP. They also volunteered a letter from their own doctor stating that there had been NO change in their medical condition.
During the appointments, the SMPs (Dr’s Vivian, Yarnley and Nightingale) made NO attempt to medically examine the pensioners. They asked NO questions about their condition and for those with physical disabilities, made NO physical examination. All they demanded was access to full and non redacted medical records since birth. The reasons for this, we believe are three fold,
- Firstly, Staffordshire police have LOST the medical records of many of these pensioners over a period of time, therefore they desperately need to obtain a replacement set, otherwise they knew nothing of the background and history of the pensioner.
- Secondly, it has been common practice for some unscrupulous SMPs to forensically examine the entire patient history with to view to finding ‘something’ else that may allow them to reduce the pension.
- Lastly, we believe that these SMPs were setting these pensioners up to fail.
In April 2009, the Home Office released a paper entitled ‘Review of police injury benefits government proposals’. Para 6.6. states,
Although this requirement ensures that the applicant must provide the police authority with an opportunity to have him or her examined and interviewed as necessary, it does not provide the authority with any express power to require the disclosure of relevant documents and medical records. Although it is not suggested that a police authority should be given such a power, it is clear that refusal to comply with such a request will oblige the police authority or the SMP, as the case may be, to consider the case on the available facts, and it is also reasonable for them to conclude in such circumstances that the claimant has something to hide which would damage his or her case.
The Home Office, further acknowledged this fact, when in 2011 they drafted a new set of regulations which suggested replacing this section,
Refusal to be medically examined
33. If a question is referred to a medical authority under regulation 30, 31 or 32 and the person concerned wilfully or negligently fails to submit himself to such medical examination or to attend such interviews as the medical authority may consider necessary in order to enable him to make his decision, then—
(a) if the question arises otherwise than on an appeal to a board of medical referees, the police authority may make their determination on such evidence and medical advice as they in their discretion think necessary;
Refusal to co-operate in medical examination
32.—(1) This regulation applies where a relevant medical question is referred to a medical authority under regulation 29, 30 or 31 and the person concerned wilfully or negligently fails to—
(a) submit himself to a medical examination;
(b) attend an interview; or
(c) consent to the disclosure of medical records
which the medical authority considers necessary in order to enable him to make his decision.
It’s worth pointing out here, that Staffordshire Police, have acknowledged that there is no legal obligation for these pensioners to hand over their most personal and private of medical notes. They wrote to one of the pensioners solicitors with the following,
“It has been explained to your client that he does not have to give consent for access to his medical records the consent form states “you can refuse to give consent if you wish”
In addition to this the ICO also had a view on this stating,
20th April 2018 and the 5th September 2018 – “Although consent is not defined by the DPA, it should be freely given. Where an individual has no option but to consent to the processing of their personal data, it is unlikely that consent has been freely given. This therefore raises fairness concerns and in our view we do not believe that consent is an appropriate condition to rely on for the processing of sensitive personal data.”
It is probably worth noting here, that in May 2018, the Information Commissioners Office (‘ICO’), became involved in Staffordshire Police’s poor handling of data, and made the following number of recommendations for corrective action,
Urgent Priority recommendations – 5
High Priority recommendations – 52
Medium Priority recommendations – 37
Low Priority recommendations – 7
Despite the forces seeming inability to securely retain sensitive personal data, one of the pensioners even took a set of their doctors notes along to the appointment for the SMP to read, but unsurprisingly, the SMP refused to read them.
With this background in mind, what pensioner in their right mind would voluntarily hand over the medical history to a force that clearly had no right to demand it, and had a dreadful history of failing to secure or protect the integrity of sensitive information? It also became clear following numerous correspondence with the force that some medical data that had been submitted to the force was being trawled through the by HR staff, who had no right to do so. This is a serious data protection breach.
Mr Morgan wrote to the pensioners involved with a view to having a meeting. He withdrew from that meeting when the pensioners requested that their legal representative be allowed to attend. Such a strange decision if Mr Morgan was acting in good faith throughout the process.
Despite all the pensioners complying with the letter of the law, the Chief Constable deemed that the pensioners had failed to comply with The Regulations and invoked punitive measures under a different regulation, this being 33, thereby dropping every pensioner that had a physical disability to the lowest band, and those with mental disabilities by one band. Some pensioners have lost over £1,400 per month.
Whilst regulation 33 allows the PPA to make a decision, it has to be made ‘on such evidence and medical advice as they in their discretion think necessary’. NO evidence has been provided by the PPA to support the punitive decision that they’ve made. The decision to reduce still falls under regulation 37(1) where a ‘substantial alteration’ has to be found, and there is no such evidence to support the reductions. Instead, the reductions seemed to follow a pattern rather than looking at each case individually, and the PPA decided that many of the pensioners could perform the same full time role within the force.
With the assistance of IODPA and the Police Federation, the pensioners challenged the decision, which was heard on 15th and 16th July 2020 by Mr Justice Linden in the Administrative Court of England and Wales. His judgment was handed down on 16th September 2020.
You can read a copy of the judgment here –
Goodland, R (On the Application Of) v Chief Constable Of Staffordshire Police  EWHC 2477 (Admin) (16 September 2020)
Unfortunately, the case was lost and the consequence of the judgment provides all police forces the ability to make unrestricted demands from all officers undergoing a review or they may face an incontestable financial penalty without the right of appeal.
We feel as though the judge in this case has ignored all the evidence, that there is no obligation in law for these pensioners to hand over their medical records. Had the judge applied the letter of the law, he would have come to the same conclusion that this is the case. We accept that this may cause a dilemma for the force, but this is for the legislators to resolve.
If this judgment, which we consider as ‘bad law’ is allowed to stand, ALL those in receipt of an injury pension will be at risk in the future, even if your force is not currently reviewing, although we are aware that a number of forces are looking at commencing reviews following this case being eventually finalised.
As a result of this, we have decided that we have no option, but to appeal this decision on behalf of all injured police officers around the UK. We understand that the Police Federation will not be financially supporting this appeal, although we would ask them to please urgently reconsider their position.
To give those in receipt of an injury pension an idea as to what they may lose, if this new ruling is applied across every force in the country we need to look at the impact upon their injury pension. The monetary awards in each band is not linear i.e. a band 4 pension is not exactly four times that of a band 1, but this method of calculation is a pretty good guide.
So if you’re on a band 2, your pension would be reduced by half, if you’re on a band 3, your pension would be reduced by two thirds, and if you’re on a band 4 your pension would be reduced by three quarters.
Now compare that huge reduction each and every month, for the rest of your life, with trying to get this decision overturned?
This ruling may even affect those on band 1 and whose condition worsens, as we believe that they will find it more difficult to secure an increase in their banding. Ironically Staffordshire Police had initially decided not to review those in receipt of a band 1 award. The cynical amongst us would believe that it it not possible to reduce them any further, and therefore it was a pointless exercise. It was apparent that this would have been unlawful not treat everyone with a disability the same, and so the policy changed, and they embarked on reviewing the band 1’s. Strange though it may seem, when Staffordshire wrote to the band 1’s they and asked if there had been any change in their condition, they accepted their word for it, when they said that there was none. However, they wouldn’t accept the word of anyone in bands 2, 3 or 4. Draw your own conclusions.
As a result, we have launched an appeal to raise £75,000 to cover the legal costs of taking this dreadful decision to appeal.
We have created a donation page, which we would encourage you to use and also, where possible, please indicate, if applicable that we can claim gift aid on your donation, which means that HMRC will give us another 25
The page can be found here – https:
/ /iodpa .org /appeal -for -justice /
Please support our appeal, and more importantly please support all those officers that had to leave their much loved career end through no fault of their own. If serving officers were fully aware of the way in which some forces consider their former officers are merely a financial burden, they may think twice before putting themselves in harms way.