Author: iodpa

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus : the son of Daedalus, tried to escape imprisonment by flying with artificial wings made of feathers glued together with wax. He flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Wednesday 13th December is a day that injured on Duty Pensioners in Staffordshire and across the country will remember for a long time to come.

On that date Dr Vivian, the SMP contracted to conduct Reg 37 reviews, has with immediate effect, RESIGNED from the process, stating that it has, “been a major burden”.

By a strange twist of synchronicity, Dr Vivian conducts his business through his company called Icarus Ltd. It seems that Dr Vivian has found things too hot for him. We have no wish to see him come to harm and his resignation may well be an honourable reaction to being in a situation which compromised his ethics.  But, will his departure cause those in charge in Staffordshire Police to give any thought to the adverse physical and psychological affect that the reviews are having on the disabled pensioners themselves?

Many of you will know, that since the summer, Staffordshire Police have been ruthlessly pressing ahead with reviews, with virtually every reviewed pensioner being reduced in banding or having been unlawfully threatened with loss of their pension for not providing their full medical notes or completing a questionnaire.

Dr Vivian has been at the heart of these reviews. Although pensioners are stating that he has been nothing but courteous and polite, he has been reducing people unlawfully and he has been making outrageous demands for medical records to which he, and the police pension authority, are not entitled. It is bad enough that Dr Vivian and his employer have been acting outside the law, but it is beyond all bounds of normal decency that the actions are accompanied with threats.

We believe that Dr Vivian is a decent physician who appears to have been misled by those paying his fees. His attendance at the laughingly mis-named National Welfare and Engagement Forum (NWEF), lair of the infamous and erroneous Nicholas Wirz and cronies, suggests that his independence is questionable. At those meetings he will have been subjected to abundant bad advice and copious misinformation concerning the duties and legal restraints which apply to the conduct of injury pension reviews.

A doctor should always look after his or patients without causing harm or unwarranted distress. Did Dr Vivian come to realise that he was being forced to sell his soul?

We understand that Dr Vivian has recently been under an enormous amount of stress over performing the role of the SMP during these reviews. This may have been caused by Staffordshire Police putting pressure on him to obtain the results that they want rather than leaving to him providing a fair independent expert assessment.

Dr Vivian has stated of SMP work that, ‘. . . it has a reputation of being highly contentious“. We at IODPA say in response, that If all reviews were conducted properly and fairly under the Regulations, then then there would be no need for stress and contention.

The SMP’s departure leaves Andrew Coley and Chief Constable Morgan in a predicament.

Do they now follow Avon and Somerset Constabulary who terminated reviews in June this year or do they continue to waste tax payers money on pursuing reviews?

IODPA continues to closely monitor events and sincerely hopes that Dr Vivian’s resignation will signal the beginning of the end of unlawful reviews and the abhorrent threats and intimidation which too many vulnerable disabled pensioners have been subjected to.

Northumbria Police Federation Wins ICO Advice Notice

Northumbria Police Federation Wins ICO Advice Notice

Inspector Adrian Smiles, a Northumbria Police officer, and vice chairman of the Northumbria Police Federation has asked the ICO to rule on the matter of demanding full medical records from birth.

The artificially high, SMP imposed,  glass ceiling of a PPA’s definition of attendance has been smashed and put beyond doubt by the Information Commissioner in the declaration that such demands of personal and sensitive data is excessive and a breach of the Data Protection Act.

1 ICO DECISION RE NORTHUMBRIA 10.11.17

 

 

Nothing to say, Mr Giffard?

Nothing to say, Mr Giffard?

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.” Police caution to suspects.

Only in the oppressive, nightmarish and twisted universe of some SMP assessments can someone in ‘attendance‘ be told that not answering questions to the satisfaction of the inquisitor is refusing to attend.  It is likely to be a cold day in Hell before the former police officers are given the same protections of adverse inferences than those suspected of crime.  Even John Giffard, who was Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police from 1996 to 2006, should get to explain his version of events and his dealing with injury awards without getting to hear the police caution directed at him.

Anyone can make mistakes but below we evidence some extraordinary, and very hard to explain behaviour by Giffard and leave it to our readers to decide what lasting legacy such actions have had on present day injury awards reviews.

For sure, anything which he has done, or failed to do, will be brushed to one side by his former chums in the National Police Chiefs Council. These people are well schooled in the art of never admitting any wrongdoing and in protecting their own. They, and Giffard, would have known exactly what Gordon Gekko meant when he said, “Moral hazard is when they take your money and then are not responsible for what they do with it.”

Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in two films about the unrestrained greed exhibited by Wall Street bankers and money men, could well have appeared as a character in another spin-off film about the moral bankruptcy of certain senior officers, SMPs and others. Expanding on Gekko’s definition we can identify moral hazard as a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

In Giffard’s case, he very clearly did not do what was right. Quite the opposite in fact, and, to make matters worse, he did it as authorised spokesperson for every Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable, the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police and certain senior non-police staff and senior members of national police agencies and certain other specialised and non-geographical forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. In total, he spoke for over 300 very senior police managers, all of whom were members of the then Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Apparently, not a single one of these worthies realised Giffard had made a major boo-boo.

Unless – they agreed with what he wrote. Which is a scenario of corruption of frightening proportions.

So, let’s see what Giffard did. Back in 2004 he was ACPO lead for pensions when one Colin Phillips, Police Pensions and Ill Health Retirement Officer within the Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group within the Home Office wrote to ACPO. Phillips was seeking the view of  all Chief Officers, via ACPO, on some guidance the Home Office was intending to publish concerning the management of police injury pensions.

Here is Phillips’ letter.

HO Letter to ACPO Giffard

 The guidance was published in August 2004. It was the infamous, and since-proven unlawful advice contained in Annex C to Home Office circular 46/2004. It said,

‘Review of Injury Pensions once Officers reach Age 65

Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches the age of 65 they will have reached their State Pension Age irrespective of whether they are male or female. The force then has the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band of Degree of Disablement.  At such a point the former officer would normally no longer be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market.’

With this guidance in mind some 15 or so forces set about holding reviews with the intention of robbing elderly disabled former officers of their rightful pensions. We need not go into the detailed history of those appalling reviews and the hugely harmful effect they had on vulnerable individuals and their families, but it is sufficient to say that the guidance had to be withdrawn once the courts had declared it to be unlawful.

However, it has left a legacy of continuing maladministration in its wake. Moreover, it signified the unveiling of what had been hitherto thinly concealed antagonistic attitudes held by some senior officers and managers against police injury pensioners. For reasons we can only guess, some people seem to think that all injury pensioners are ‘working the system’, or are too generously recompensed for their injuries, or that injury pensions are fair game for any Chief Officer who wants to trim the force budget.

If the Home Office guidance was the trigger for an era of outrageous manipulation of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations, where certain forces have sought to make cash savings by attempts to reduce the level of injury pension payments, then the letter which Giffard, on behalf of ACPO, wrote to the Home Office is the smoking gun which signifies exactly who must hold responsibility for all maladministration occurring since 2004.

This is what Giffard replied to the Home Office.

Giffard to HO

Astoundingly, what we read is evidence that a very senior police officer, speaking on behalf of all other very senior police officers thinks that it is perfectly lawful to take away the injury pensions of all 12,000 plus disabled former officers once they reach the age of 65. Moreover, this is to be achieved by means of some guidance issued by the Home Office. Guidance which has no legal authority and is of no more value than any other piece of advice. In other words, ACPO thinks the law can be changed by Home Office guidance.

If we search for reasons why this crass letter was penned and delivered to the Home Office, signifying the total agreement of all very senior police officers and managers to an illegal action, we can only see two possibilities. Either Giffard and all said senior personnel were utterly unaware, to the point of gross negligence, that injury pensions can not be reduced or ceased as suggested, or all concerned were aware and willing to be party to a conspiracy to pervert the rule of law.

This is such a serious matter that IODPA thought it best to give Giffard an opportunity to offer an explanation for his actions.

Accordingly, we wrote to him. This is what we said:

IODPA-G-12-09-17

 We anticipated that Giffard might simply ignore IODPA or he might dispel all our suspicions and make a handsome apology for what was a most grievous error.

Giffard did neither. He surprised us by taking what looks like a cowardly way out. He sent our letter to the National Police Chiefs Council for them to deal with. What a cop-out. Not at all the actions of an honourable man.

I wish we could say that the NPCC responded in a positive manner. That would be too much to hope for, as we know only too well that nothing has changed at the top. First ACPO sells out disabled police pensioners, and now the NPCC waffles and says nothing which addresses the issue. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Here is the NPCC’s response.

ST_IODPA_Injury_Pensions_06_11_2017

It is interesting (a surprise to those currently being reviewed) to read that the NPCC chair, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, states quite clearly that:

Forces are no longer initiating new reviews of police injury benefit benefits, pending the issue of new guidance or directions

Nobody is going to be sent round to Giffard’s modest little country pile to invite him down the local nick to answer some questions. No boys or girls in blue are going to be raiding the NPCC for more documentary evidence of possible corruption or misconduct in public office. What we witness here is no more than what we have come to expect – complete denial of wrongdoing by way of batting off any complaints, criticisms or enquiries with meaningless measly-mouthed platitudes. And an unshakable certainty that they are all above the law.

If you want a glimpse into the murky world of top police management, then Giffard’s letter is the litmus test which indicates the presence of an endemic disdain for ethics and law totally at odds with the standards of behaviour and management we all have a right to expect from our police service.

Mr Giffard. your silence speaks more loudly than any protestations of innocence ever could.

When David Lock QC Speaks the World Listens

When David Lock QC Speaks the World Listens

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.”
― Thomas Aquinas

The speaking style of judges in judicial review transcripts can be incredibly hard to decipher, and we know it.  In judgements, the sentences start here, twist there and double back so many times that non-legally trained minds might give up trying to pin down what is being said.

That is why we give a shudder of relief when David Lock shines light on otherwise complicated matters.  For the second time this month we have seen another excellent piece on police injury pension decisions:

The duty on Medical Authorities to resolve factual issues when making police injury pension decisions.

The last opinion piece I posted about police medical pensions has been read nearly 5,000 times. This suggests that there is considerable disquiet

David touches on an much-missed judgement that holds selected medical practitioners to a civil standard of proof – a judgement that we have read before but honestly failed to detect the power of what his Honour Judge Davies said in the 2011 decision of Williams v Merseyside Police Authority.

Mr Williams was the first “anor” in the 2010 Doubtfire & Anor  v West Mercia Police Authority & Anor.  The second “anor” was Merseyside Police.  David Lock was the QC who won both the Doubtfire (and anor) judicial review and the sole Williams judicial review for the former officer.

Police officers with broken minds and bodies suffer huge personally trauma by being injured.  This life changing injury puts an end to not only a career, but a vocation and, sadly, often their family and personal life.  Then the malice that lives in the hearts of police forces places further purgatory by forcing former officers to chase their entitlement by going to court.

Please take a minute to consider that Mr Williams was medically retired on 4th September 2006.   He attended his first judicial review on 30th April 2010.   The second was held 13th April 2011.  Take stock of all the HR letters he has received, the work he has done with his legal team, the assessments he has attended: the intense and full force of the bureaucracy he faced! Just to receive what he has always been due.

Lest we forget the trauma placed upon those injured on duty by police pension authorities.

With due reverence, time to be moving on. Justice Davies started his judgement of the 2011 decision by making reference to the saga that Mr Williams has been forced to endure when he said:

“Mr Williams’ application for an injury pension already has a protracted and unfortunate history.

We’ve talked before about Mr Williams and how the SMPs, Dr Vincenti and Dr Staley, disagreed with each other about the exact name of Mr William’s diagnosis.  You can refresh your knowledge here.

In David Lock’s LinkedIn opinion piece he talks clearly about the grey area between medical and legal decision making.  The piece speaks for itself and we can not do it justice by commentating on it.  We wholeheartedly recommend it as essential reading.  Doctors who work as SMPs should take stock that hiding under the title of doctor does not absolve them from following the law.  Clearly, what has been ruled in previous case law applies to them just as much as it does to the police pension authority.

We will however touch on the Williams case.  It is worth remembering that this concerned an original decision. Specifically, the issue of causation.    Upon review under Regulation 37 the room for manoeuvre of the medical authority is significantly narrower because of the decision of the 2010 Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws.

After the 2010 case of Doubtfire the decisions were quashed and Mr Williams had to see the same PMAB (the “Board”) panel for a re-determination.  Bizarrely instead of producing a fresh report, it simply produced an addendum to their original report, entitled “reconsideration following judicial review”.

The case discussion by the Board involved a lot of umming-and-ahhing over what was, and what was not, supported by the evidence.  The Board was attempting to unravel some of the accusations of bullying  and they observed that there was a difference between Mr Williams’ account of events and that of  a Sergeant Hilton and an Inspector Fitzpatrick.

Merseyside lost the judicial review on several points but the most relevant point for us today was that the Board based decisions on one party’s perception of version of events at the expense of the other party.  This is one thing that David touches on in his opinion piece when he says

The SMP and the PMAB is not entitled to rely on the finding of the Force uncritically but needs to form its own view of the truth.

Justice Davies made it clear that the medical authority can not selectively weigh evidence depending on who is the evidence giver. Justice Davies said in the judgement:

 It does however appear, when read with the rest of the letter, that the Board’s approach was that it was only prepared to accept evidence from Mr Williams which was either proved by independent evidence or not disputed by the Authority. It appears that the reference to seeking additional information is a reference back to the difficulty they had in interpreting what Inspector Fitzpatrick had said. However the end result appears to have been that in the absence of additional information they simply took what Inspector Fitzpatrick said at face value and decided the issue against Mr Williams on that basis.

It’s worth contemplating that for a second.  The medical authority would not consider anything not disputed by the police pension authority or not independent.  Such blatant partisan and excessive zeal in refusing to hear the other side of the story, or to refuse the giving of context to dry medical records,  belongs more to the spectacular miscarriages of justice seen in 18th century than the United Kingdom in the 21st Century.

We often hear anecdotal situations where the medical authority (the SMP) blithely casts aside a letter from a patient’s General Practitioner, or where the SMP takes great care to give weight to the force’s submission but states that the patient’s own clinicians would be bias and too over-favourable.

Or an often repeated situation where the SMP refuses to listen to the oral submissions of the former officer sat in front of him and solely only thinks “what is written is truth” and discounts the medical opinion he doesn’t agree with without reasoning why the evidence is rejected. Like the Board in the Williams case, this will always produce a result which was unfair to the former officer, and which is not a decision on the civil balance of probabilities.

An even greater travesty is where the medical authority pre-determines any decision in the to and fro  communication with a HR manager prior to the actual date of the former officer’s assessment.  Such happenings have occurred between Dr Vivian and Staffordshire’s Andrew Colley.

Holding the title of a doctor does not excuse one, when acting as a SMP, in failing to apply the civil standard of proof.

Re-reading the Williams judgement with fresh eyes has been revealing.  We again thank David Lock for shining a light on how the law shall be applied.

 

 

 

 

The Scandal in Staffordshire

The Scandal in Staffordshire

Alea iacta est”  (“The die is cast”) — Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 B.C as he crossed the Rubicon river

November 9th 2017 was a black day.  It was the day Staffordshire police, Andrew Colley and Charles Vivian crossed the Rubicon.

The answer will be found in the courts and injustice will be vanquished, as it always is, but still Staffordshire police wants test their ruinous interpretation of the law whilst ignoring the collateral harm it is deliberately causing to those injured in their police service.

Why are we here and why wasn’t this stopped when the wickedness was embryonic?  What follows is a timely reminder.

Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin” describes how when behaviour worsens, those with the power to do something go on the defensive, convinced there is always a reasonable explanation for why what they could have stopped was done to others.

On the 7 June 2017 at court room in North Shields, employment Judge Buchanan heard how David Curry, a former police officer retired on a pension awarded for disabling brain injury suffered in the line of duty had been pursued since 1998 by his former force. Mr Curry had his injury pension reviewed in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2010 and continually from 2016 to 2017. The fact that he was sectioned and admitted into a psychiatric ward wasn’t enough to persuade his former force there had been no change in his capacity to earn.

David’s experience is sadly not an isolated instance. The charity Injury on Duty Pensioners Association (IODPA)1 has gathered a large and growing body of personal accounts by the victims of maladministration. So much is wrong with so many aspects of police injury pension management that the situation is little short of a national scandal, which requires the attention of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Disabled former officers such as Mr Curry can never be free from the police.  The new £7.5m Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW)  welfare fund is helping those serving but neglects those already injured and retired.  Ill-health retirement is sadly an acrimonious and bureaucratic process and this doesn’t cease once permanence has been proved and the warrant card handed back. Every time the postman drops a letter through a letterbox carries the risk of adversity; a letter from the force causing the injured to relive the trauma of how they left the police.

Through a fluke of mailroom efficiency, often these letters drop on a Saturday when week-day mental health support has closed. No other occupation has such a toe-hold on those leave through medical retirement.  They are being treated as though they are cheats or liars. Some, including those with severe mental injury, have been subjected to hours-long aggressive ‘medical inquisitions’ by doctors appointed by their former force throughout their life outside of the police.

When a force wants to review the principles of the Data Protection Act are often forgotten. As are the Access to Medical Reports Act, and General Medical Council and Faculty of Occupational Medicine guidelines. Pensioners are facing unlawful demands for access to their medical records and see reports written by said doctors, which contain gross errors in fact and law, delivered to HR departments without their permission. Pensioners have been threatened with stoppage of their injury pensions if they fail to complete questionnaires demanding sensitive financial and medical information having no relevance whatever to the management of their pensions.

Age can never be a factor.  Slavishly following a “policy” is unlawful.  It is never justifiable to threaten compliance or consent. A SMP can’t have a predetermined decision based on averages of prognosis for the general population.  Causation can not be touched upon  It is not about earnings.

All these things happened in Staffordshire on the 9th November 2017.

Those injured and disabled have to contend with pension scheme administrators who have little to no understanding of the Regulations which govern police injury pensions and whose automatic reaction to any enquiry or query concerning mismanagement is to circle the wagons and to deny, delay, obfuscate and obstruct. Complaints are brushed aside, and are labelled as vexatious, or an abuse of the complaints system.

Of major concern is a widespread misapprehension by senior officers and Police and Crime Commissioners that the Regulations permit regular mass reviews of the degree of disablement of injury pensioners. Mass reviews have been held, in some forces areas, causing very great worry and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families. Mass reviews are unlawful, as decisions made on degree of disablement are intended to be final and only subject to review where the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the pensioner’s degree of disablement.

There are 43 regional police forces in England and Wales. The picture is mixed, with the majority of forces not conducting reviews, whilst others have actively set about wholesale abuse of the discretionary power to conduct reviews. IODPA has been told by pensioners in these areas that they fear they are caught up in a grotesque game, where a handful of people on a mission are using them to test the boundaries of what they think they can get away with – all with the misplaced and illusory objective of saving money.

IODPA has no objection to lawful reviews, which it insists should be rare events, triggered when the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the medical condition of any individual. Research conducted on behalf of IODPA produced data on reviews held covering the five year period 2010 – 2015 revealing that 83% of all reviews held resulted in a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement, and thus no revision of the amount of injury pension paid. Some 10.29% of reviews resulted in a decrease in pension, whilst 6.82% were increased. Just six forces accounted for the majority of the reviews, conducting 781 out of the total of 806. Merseyside alone conducted a staggering 502 reviews, all of which are believed to have been unlawfully held.

It can be concluded from the research that some forces wasted a great deal of public money conducting unnecessary reviews, which cost around £2500 each, with other, more substantial costs resulting from appeals and legal challenges.

Avon & Somerset has paid one SMP, a Dr Phillip Johnson, £94,500 in twelve months from August 2016 to August 2017.  Add this to the £54,600 paid to Johnson from December 2015 to August 2016 and the £146,667 between June 2014 to November 2015, and the sum totals just under three hundred thousand pounds.  Given Johnson works as the force medical officer for Dorset police and Avon & Somerset already pays a salary of over £150k per annum to Dr David Bulpitt, the scales of money exchanging hands is staggering.

In one force3, pensioners were selected for review by what was essentially an automated lottery, with no evidence whatever to believe their degree of disablement had altered. In one force a civilian member of staff was given free access to the medical records of police injury pensioners. It seems this force allowed, even encouraged attempts to reduce injury pension payments. The civilian’s job description2 commenced thus:

Job Purpose. To manage the investigation and process of police and support staff retirement on the grounds of ill health. To ensure maximum savings to the force budget through the robust investigation of injury award applications, injury award reviews, medical appeals and reviewing permanently disabled officers who have been retained in service.

It seems this force has wrongly tied what should be the administration of injury pensions within the content, scope and purposes of the Regulations to the management of the force budget. Disabled pensioners are to be subjected to ‘investigation’ rather than be treated with respect and consideration.

The fact of the unlawful reviews is cause enough for concern, but there is a widespread and justified belief among pensioners that the reviews are motivated solely by a misplaced desire to save money from hard-pressed police budgets.

There is also uneasiness regarding the unhelpful attitudes of HR staff, the some doctors, and senior officers, some of whom are politely aggressive, or arrogantly dismissive of pensioners’ concerns.

It is unacceptable that that the rights of injured on duty pensioners should be trampled on by the failures of those responsible for the legitimate management of the scheme. Retired disabled officers deserve better. Attitudes need to change.

When a police officer is injured on duty, to such an extent they can no longer perform the ordinary duties of a constable they can be compulsorily medically retired. Injury can be physical or mental, or a combination of both. The retiring officer can be awarded a one-off gratuity and an injury pension, which is payable for life. The test for qualification for the award is whether the person concerned is disabled, whether the disablement is likely to be permanent and whether the disablement is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty.

The injury on duty pension scheme is governed by the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. The explanatory memorandum3 to that legislation makes it clear that injury awards, ‘. . . are in effect compensation for work-related injuries.’

In making provision for injured officers to receive a pension, successive Governments have consistently acknowledged that entitlement to a police injury pension is a key element of the remuneration of police officers to enable them to undertake their role with confidence. Officers need to know that if they have to be retired due to disabling injury they will not suffer financial detriment. Currently, that certainty is slipping away, and if this trend continues, then morale of serving officers will suffer.

If there was no injury pension scheme, it is reasoned that Chief Officers would inevitably find themselves subjected to litigation, with allegations of negligence, and claims for compensation for injury. Given that there are currently over 12,000 former officers retired with an injury on duty, the potential cost of litigation should there have been no injury award scheme could well have run into thousands of millions.

No amount of pension can ease the difficulties retiring injured officers face. The consequential mental trauma of injury can be severe. There is the loss of an occupation which for many officers is seen as a vocation more than a means of earning a living. There is the loss of the comradeship, and loss of the sense of belonging, of being engaged in a worthwhile enterprise with noble aims and purpose. With the shock of injury and retirement comes the need to construct a new life. Some disabled former officers manage the transition with minimal difficulty. They find a new job or a new career. They adapt to the restrictions the disablement brings.

However, for many, especially those with very severe disablement, IODPA is well aware that transition to life outside the police can be a lengthy and distressing experience. Despite positive changes in attitudes by employers, encouraged by anti-discrimination legislation, disabled former officers, especially those with a mental injury, may well find themselves to be unemployable.

The Regulations governing police injury pensions are not concerned with these problems. They address only the one issue, that of providing a minimum income guarantee in retirement, and on that issue they are adequate for purpose. An injury pension scheme is only effective where it is properly managed. The Regulations are not hard to understand. Yet they are being woefully misunderstood by some who have responsibility for managing the police injury pension scheme.

In November 2013 the College of Policing arranged a review of forces’ management of ill health Retirements, injury on duty awards and police medical appeal boards4. Amongst other conclusions, the resulting report found that:

Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations.’

The structure of some force HR facilities do not support the management of the process. When managed by shared service pools rather than through specific dedicated individuals, personnel are unable to build up experience in dealing with these case.’

The above issues are compounded by a lack of dedicated subject matter experts across the service and training opportunities.’

We have to look back to 2006 to see the origins of this sad state of affairs. Due to a change in tax legislation, and to preserve the tax-free status of injury awards they were separated from the general police pension schemes. The injury pension scheme became a non-contributory scheme, and award payments now stand to be met from the budget of each force.

This immediately brought about a focus on the cost of meeting existing injury pension payments. Some chief officers sought to reduce what was seen as a burden on scarce resources by manipulating the review provision.

Then the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 abolished police authorities, which had hitherto held the legal obligation to administer the police injury award scheme. In practice, authorities had delegated the administration to Chief Constables, but they continued to provide an important oversight. The 2011 Act created the office of police pension authority and vested it in the sole personages of each Chief Constable.

There seems to be a built-in conflict of interest in having Chief Constables, who must dutifully manage their budgets, having to attempt to set aside all considerations of cost when acting as the police pension authority. The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 do not say that a pension can be reviewed because a Chief Constable is concerned about the cost of paying it. Some Chief Constables have failed to make the necessary separation of their duties, to their great shame and to the detriment of disabled, and often vulnerable, former officers.

In Lionel Shriver’s novel, it was too late to save Kevin and those he massacred. The opportunity to make things right had passed. It is not too late for disabled former officers like David. IODPA suggests that Police and Crime Commissioners urgently should look closely at the human and financial cost of these issues and help ensure that police injury pensions are managed within the law.

1 https://iodpa.org/

2 See: http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/000.JDQ-Medical-Retirement-Officer.pdf

3 See: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/injury_on_duty_reviews_the_next#outgoing-510456

4 See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/932/pdfs/uksiem_20060932_en.pdf

5 See: College of Policing Review of Force Management of Ill Health Retirements, Injury on Duty Awards and Police Medical Appeal Boards

David Lock QC: Medical reviews of former police officers on injury pensions: Is there any duty to provide medical records?

David Lock QC: Medical reviews of former police officers on injury pensions: Is there any duty to provide medical records?

All copyright owned by David Lock QC

David Lock QC

David Lock QC

Barrister and QC at Landmark Chambers

Medical reviews of former police officers on injury pensions: Is there any duty to provide medical records?

There is a considerable debate at the moment about how far Chief Constables, acting as the Police Pensions Authority, (“the PPA”) and the Selected

Medical reviews of former police officers on injury pensions_ Is there any duty to provide medical records_ LinkedIn

Advocating a 100% Fresh Assessment in All but Name

Advocating a 100% Fresh Assessment in All but Name

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

Here’s the problem. A force brainwashed SMP won’t say a medical examination has occurred without seeing the former officer stagger into the office with bulging* Lidl bag (other supermarkets are available) with papers sticking out of it. *Note: More than likely the physical carrying of such bag will be used as sly evidence of substantial change.

We don’t know if it had the words ‘all my medical records ever, since birth’ written in Magic Marker on the side of the bag. Anyway, a little later, the SMP says a mild bout of flu when 6 years old is the real cause of the missing limb and subsequent PTSD, and causation is revisited.

Later again, surprise is expressed that the SMP had been able to get through with his primitive bag of tricks. In this new-age we are continually exhorted by HR minions such as  Staffordshire’s Andrew Colley that it’s not the force that wants the medical records, it’s the SMP.  Always the SMP.  ‘Our hands are tied!’ says Colley, the doctor is a doctor, he can ask for whatever he likes.  Don’t shoot the messenger … nothing to do with the PPA (honest ‘guv).

We are told to be vigilant on disclosure of sensitive personal information, so why wasn’t the SMP told he can’t have what he’s not entitled to? Did nobody think it looked a bit suspicious?  That the question of what happened prior to the last decision is time-barred and irrelevant.  What maybe reasonable to a nice and pleasant doctor is not lawful in the world of the Regulations where nice and pleasant doctors are as rare as unicorn droppings.

We have the feeling we know the answer to that. Just think of the howl-round, the furore, if the SMP decided to say the person should not have an injury award in the first place or said the previous decision wrong. This would be a clear breach of Law Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and the PMAB [2010] EWCA Civ 1099, in which it was held that the SMP was not entitled when conducting a review under regulation 37 to re-open clinical judgements as to causation or apportionment made in earlier decisions under the 2006 Regulations, and had merely to consider whether the degree of disablement had substantially altered.

But by demanding full medical records from birth, this is exactly where we are, right now. Pinned to our seats by perceived medical decision immunity, as the train enters the darkness of the tunnel of the Laws case law, next stop a zero percent band one.

Forces like Staffordshire are trying to bypass Laws and revisit causation by pointing the finger at Dr Vivian by proclaiming that it’s not them (the police pension authority, PPA) that is demanding full medical records, it’s Vivian – and Vivian is a doctor, and all doctors are nice and pleasant and wouldn’t breach the law.  The flaw in this is the SMP, as a delegated decision maker, is synonymous with the PPA.  They are not two separate entities … one is culpable for the other.  What the PPA can’t do, the SMP can’t do.

But the “let’s look at full medical records from birth” is when the SMP brings in other illnesses even when there are no said illness – such as age! (We aren’t joking here, this recently happened). And the reduction is formalised behind the mask of so-called expert medical opinion.

Where did this process of radicalisation start, and what has had done to counter it?  Our blogs shine a light and the narrative is clear:  the Regulations do not support the interpretation that is placed upon them by police forces.  They get it wrong and that’s why they continually lose in judicial reviews.

The National Well Being & Attendance Forum sets its people apart from the rest and, in all too many cases, this apartness leads to a hatred of the function of the Regulations:  to provide those injured on duty with an injury award.

NWEF prefers to think the Regulations as a means to stop those injured on duty from getting an injury award.

The NWEF September 1st 2017 minutes are a case in point.  The minions in attendance obviously, quite rightly, have the willies about consent because they get the consent issue so wrong it hurts.  They talked about being GDPR ready (the GPDR is the new General Data Protection Regulations and is the new legal framework for data protection coming into force in 2018) but just prior they chat about the SMP can have anything the SMP asks for. NWEF says:

The general view was that it is the SMPs process so it is up to the SMP to direct what information or evidence they require,

We’ve read the GPDR and having ‘everything’ ever, because ‘everything’ is asked for, and not giving ‘everything’ will be seen as non-compliance and dealt with by punitive action, doesn’t seem to fit.  Actually enough faux understatement, let’s not beat around the bush; it’s unlawful.

And the questionnaire!  Oh my, the questionnaire.  Even though a 2017 consent order against Merseyside touched on this as well as full medical records from birth, NWEF still thinks a questionnaire is a legitimate means to fulfil the comparison test.

3) Refusing to complete a questionnaire for the purposes of Reg 37(1)
It was felt the exchange of information between the pensioner and SMP is essential to identify substantial change.
There was comment that the case of Laws set the principle that a case cannot be referred for degree of disablement to be reviewed without evidence of substantial change; the questionnaire assists with the gathering of evidence.

Let us quickly mention that the purpose of a review is never to fish for change to find evidence for a reduction and that a questionnaire is an invented device and is outside the statutory framework.  But let us roll with the juxtaposition of the Laws judgement and whether the questionnaire assists with the gathering of evidence.

Surely for the questionnaire to be a tool in the way NWEF suggests, there will have to be two questionnaires.  One completed on a previous date, and one completed in the present day. And then the answer to the questions could be balanced against the previous answer.

But no … there is only ever one questionnaire.  So tying to mask this unlawful device as permitted by Laws is just probably the worse thing ever written about anything to do with the Regulations. Ever.

Feel free to read the rest of the September minutes.  Have your tutting hat on.  You will be doing a lot of tutting!

NWEF September 1 2017

 

Dismissed PTSD Officer wins right to sue for discrimination

Dismissed PTSD Officer wins right to sue for discrimination

A former Metropolitan police officer who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following an assault while on duty, but was dismissed by a misconduct panel who failed to take the PTSD into account, has been given the right to sue her bosses for discrimination at an employment tribunal.

The officer – named in court only as ‘P’ – said the misconduct panel which ended her career in 2012 had been guilty of disability discrimination because it failed to take her PTSD into account.

Previously, police officers could not bring proceedings in an  employment tribunal, to challenge the actions or decisions of the Panel, because it’s a judicial tribunal.

The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday over-ruled this.  The ruling is a game-changer that determines that police internal misconduct panels do not enjoy judicial immunity and victims of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or disability can now pursue discrimination claims against the police at an employment tribunal.

P (Appellant) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Respondent) – The Supreme Court

Case details

It is apparent that this judgement has further implications on other professions, panels and tribunals, including Police Medical Appeal Boards (PMABs).

The Supreme Court is highest authority in the interpretation of UK law and can not be appealed.  Such a judgement shines a light on the thought processes and current paradigm of our leading judges in how, and to whom, the Equality Act applies.

uksc-2016-0041-press-summary

 

Employment Judge Rules That The Equality Act Applies To Injury Awards

Employment Judge Rules That The Equality Act Applies To Injury Awards

Northumbria Police has  failed in its attempt to strike out a disability discrimination claim against a former officer with an injury award who Northumbria wanted to continue a review under Regulation 37 despite the former officer being sectioned in a mental health institution.

In perhaps the first judgement in employment law concerning the Police Injury Benefit Regulations, Employment Judge A M Buchanan (sitting alone) has ruled that the Regulations are an occupational pension in relation to the Equality Act 2010 (EqA).  Northumbria Police tried to persuade the court to dismiss the claim without a full hearing of all of the evidence on the basis the tribunal had no jurisdiction.

The immediate consequence is that Section 61 EqA is a gateway that allows discriminatory action to challenged in an Employment Tribunal, when it occurs in the administration of injury awards.

Judge Buchannen said;

I consider there is every reason why a nondiscrimination rule should apply to the Scheme. It is a scheme which clearly provides benefits in the nature of a pension

And he continued that the only forum to seek redress for such matters will be an Employment Tribunal;

I conclude that the matters which are sought to be litigated in these proceedings are not matters which fall within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court of the High Court or for that matter the Crown Court. The claimant does not seek to challenge the process per se but seeks to have a Tribunal adjudicate upon whether or not in doing what he has done the respondent has breached the provisions of the 2010 Act in the way he has carried out his duties.

The claim can now proceed to full trial.   If Northumbria appeal the preliminary judgement then it will be heard before an Employment Appeals Tribunal and become a stated case. The full judgement can be read below:

Mr DJ Curry v The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police: 2500281/2017 – GOV.UK

Employment Tribunal decision.

3 Big Data Myths: Busted

3 Big Data Myths: Busted

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
― George Bernard ShawMajor Barbara

Myth #1:  Handwritten SMP notes belong to the Doctor

Having brought and subsequently lost a constructive dismissal claim, in 2014 and 2015, a Mr Percival made a series of Subject Access Requests to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) seeking access to the judge’s notes relating to the employment tribunal.

The MoJ initially resisted the request on the basis that judicial notes should not be disclosed as part of a subject access request. They argued that the Judge’s notes were not part of a “relevant filing system” so were not within the scope of the Data protection Act and that the MoJ were not the relevant data controller concerning the notes

The ICO also disagreed with the argument put forward by the MoJ that they were not the data controller, deciding that the MoJ became the data controller in relation to the notes as soon as they were included in the court file.

Accordingly, the ICO recommended that all personal data (including the Judge’s handwritten notes) should be provided. The judge’s notes were eventually released to Mr Percival in January 2017.

It is reported that the ICO letter to Mr Percival stated

there is no doubt that clarifying the nature of the relationship between judicial notes and the DPA is important … a decision on the relationship is likely to be far-reaching and extend well beyond the particular circumstances of your own case.”

Often SMP’s keep their scribbles to themselves.  The ICO advice makes it clear that if the SMP has used a pen during the appointment, then he or she is obliged to disclose what they have written in answer to a subject access request.


Myth #2:  consent to Disclose a report cannot be revoked when an Occupational Health Doctor is performing a work test for an employer

IODPA has already discussed the Access to Medical Reports Act.  You can refresh your knowledge here:

Access to Medical Reports Act

But what are the thoughts to the GMC on this matter?  Michael Keegan, Policy Adviser with the GMC’s Standards & Ethics Team made it quite clear in a 2009 letter he sent to the Faculty of Occupation Medicine.

GMC letter to FOM 2009

If a doctor makes a report based on that person’s own medical history, specific consent of disclosure is required.

Mr Keegan elucidates:

For the avoidance of doubt, I should state that the disclosure of a report expressing an opinion (on a patient’s fitness to work, for example) based on confidential information is a disclosure. I think that was common ground.

He contrasts this with a report authored with information that originated from the employer alone:

Reports based on information to which patients’ employers or insurers already have access are not disclosures for the purposes of this guidance, although the involvement and role of doctors should be explained as part of the information about the process.

Police forces do not have the information held on your GP medical records – this is why they demand full records from birth with poorly veiled threats to suspend awards on non-compliance.  They fail to realise by obtaining such information they then have statutory restrictions on any report or certificate they write based on such information.

This takes us to the final myth: they can’t keep the confidential, personal and sensitive data they already possess!


Myth #3:  A Police force can retain the personal CONFIDENTIAL & sensitive data of a retired officer forever in perpetuity “just in case

This debunk involves a Mr Herring who, having attended a Police Medical Appeals Board (‘PMAB’), approx 15 years ago recently discovered that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary still retained a full set of his medical records from birth. They attempted to justify this retention on the basis that the records were being held ‘just in case’ they were required at some point in the future. Case law confirms that once a medical assessment has been made under the PIBR 2006, then that decision is final and introducing or using previous medical information can be unlawful.

The case was taken to the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) regarding the excessive retention and processing of data of personal sensitive information. After consultation with the National College of Policing (‘COP’), the ICO upheld the complaint, and instructed the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to cease processing this material forthwith and either destroy it, or return it to Mr Herring upon request.

We quote from the ICO’s advice to Mr Herring,

“…it would appear that the constabulary is excessively processing sensitive personal data about you. It would appear unnecessary for the constabulary to continue to retain information about your medical records, going right back to your birth.
We have therefore asked the constabulary to cease processing your medical records. We would recommend that you contact the constabulary directly to agree how best for them to do this; whether it be that they return the information to you or securely destroy it”

Mr Herring subsequently had his medical records returned to him.

There is therefore no justification or provision in law for holding or processing such excessive amounts of sensitive personal information. Many forces hold vast amounts of information relating to retired officers, and for no lawful reason. We understand that the COP will be issuing guidance to forces, but in the meantime it is open for all retired officers to contact their force and ask for the return of their data. We would also encourage them to do so.