Chief Constable

Gareth Morgan Invokes Regulation 33 On Seventeen Disabled Pensioners

Gareth Morgan Invokes Regulation 33 On Seventeen Disabled Pensioners

 

Gareth Morgan (pictured) has sent out letters to seventeen Staffordshire police pensioners informing them he is dropping their injury pensions based on his interpretation of Regulation 33 of The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. He is also intending to back date his decision.

We cannot comment on this any further for legal reasons, but here is what Staffordshire Police have posted on their website –

 

The Staffordshire Saga

The Staffordshire Saga

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

― Mark Twain

 

Staffordshire Police is one of less than a small handful of forces which remain determined to abuse the ‘review’ provision contained within The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.

Chief Constable Morgan, fresh from his experiences with attempting to run a mass review programme of injury pensions in Avon and Somerset, has committed Staffordshire to a similar enterprise.

Mr Morgan’s story in Avon and Somerset, which he has repeated in Staffordshire, is that there is a duty to review the degree of disablement of all former officers who are in receipt of an injury on duty pension. In an open letter dated 21st December 2017 CC Morgan writes,

On 26 April 2017 Staffordshire (sic) Police began a pension review of retired Injured on Duty (IOD) officers in accordance with Reg. 37 (1) of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 which places a duty upon the Police Pension Authority (the Chief Constable) to review whether the degree of the pensioners’ disablement has altered.

 

There is a duty, which is subject to a discretionary process before being acted upon, which allows a Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’) to,

. . .  consider whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered . . .

 

A PPA must, for each individual, first determine whether it is appropriate to consider whether their degree of disablement has altered. It must first identify a suitable interval has passed since the time of the last final decision was made on degree of disablement. In some instances, there may never be a suitable interval.

Let’s  put this as simply as possible. Unless a PPA can show, with a record of its reasoning process, that there has passed a suitable interval then a PPA is not entitled to make any consideration on degree of disablement.

This aspect of the Regulations was settled way back in 2003, in the case of Crocker. The court opined,

I regard the review provision as the key.  There is no need to speculate.  As and when circumstances dictate, the pension is reviewed.  The doctors, the Medical Referee, and Selected Medical Practitioner can, and here did, indicate when they thought that that should happen.  Such a power is wholly inconsistent with a need to forecast the future and then to test the calculation of the forecast against the actual out turn on a number of occasions.  The means by review of correcting the pension when circumstances change obviates the need not just to speculate, but to speculate and review as well.

 

That determination is not hard to understand, but in plainer English, the court decided that doctors, medical referees (now PMAB’s) and SMPs should not speculate about when any alteration in an individual’s degree of disablement might occur. A PPA should not use those speculations as reason to conduct a ‘review’.

Moreover, the court decided that any ‘review’ should be a reaction to a perceived change in circumstances of an individual.

Staffordshire Police, and others, should note well the deliberate use of the singular pronoun in regulation 37, which identifies – ‘the pensioner’. Not, ‘all pensioner’s degrees of disablement’ or even, ‘pensioner’s degrees of disablement‘.

When the Regulations speak of the singular person they intend a singular consideration, not a mass consideration.

The PPA should therefore conduct a full review only after having considered that the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered.

We have to comment too, that a ‘consideration’ is a very different concept to a ‘review’. In fact, the word ‘review’ does not appear anywhere in the Regulations.

What Staffordshire Police mistakenly reads into the Regulations is a carte blanche duty to intrude into the lives of disabled former officers. They think that they can demand a range of sensitive medical and financial information to which they have no legal right. They think that they can task their HR or Occupational Health departments to collude with the doctor hired by the force to conduct medical assessments and examination with a view to influencing what should be an independent medical decision by the SMP.

Staffordshire Police set about their plans to conduct a mass review programme in the manner of a surgeon removing a leg to treat an ingrowing toenail.

The truth is, all Staffordshire Police are entitled to do is to make a polite enquiry of only those pensioners where there my be a strong indication of alteration. Their duty is discharged entirely once they get the answer that there has been no alteration.

We can for the moment leave aside well-founded suspicions that wherever a force has decided to hold mass reviews the decision to do so has been based entirely on an expectation of saving money.

Such expectations have proved to be illusory.

The facts are that over a ten year period, up to 2015, across the country, when most forces were conducting reviews, the vast majority resulted in a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement.

Even if Staffordshire Police’s intentions were entirely based on an altruistic desire to comply with the basic concept that a police pension authority needs to ensure the correct level of pension continues to be paid, should circumstances alter, then conducting a mass review is not the way to go about it.

So, what has happened so far? What progress has been made since Mr Morgan’s announcement in April 2017?

A recent Freedom of Information request has revealed some interesting facts.

A company called IMASS/Medigold was contracted to provide a doctor or doctors to conduct the medical aspects of the reviews. This company’s doctor commenced his work with Staffordshire in February 2018.

A doctor assessed 26 injury on duty pensioners. He made a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement in 6 cases. In the remaining 20 cases he decided he could not make any decision. No former officers were decided to have experienced any alteration in degree of disablement.

There is no option in the Regulations for a SMP to discharge his task by not deciding. Once a PPA has commenced a consideration it must ensure a decision is made. Staffordshire PPA is in breach of its duty in respect of those 20 pensioners who have no finality.

Surely, common sense should prevail in these circumstances. A PPA has only one realistic option, which is to record the SMP’s ‘no decision’ as a decision there has been no alteration. It is inhuman to leave pensioners up in the air with the uncertainty a failure to decide engenders.

Other evidence of what has resulted from reviews is contained in a Progress Report dated 22nd March 2018.

Police_Pensions_Board_Half_Yearly_Report_140318

 

It states a total of 45 injury on duty pensioners had been reviewed, or were in the process of being reviewed. Of them, 13 were decided to have no alteration in degree of disablement. In 4 cases, the pension was reduced due to a decision there had been a substantial improvement in degree of disablement. Of the remaining 28 pensioners there was no news.

Each review will have cost at least £500 to £600 and if there are appeals and court cases resulting from unlawful application of the regulations the experience of Avon and Somerset will be repeated in Staffordshire. When Mr Morgan was DCC in Avon and Somerset he saw a bill which ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

IODPA finds it hard to understand why Staffordshire police pension authority is happy to waste so much public money in conducting ‘reviews’ as currently constructed, when it is open to it to devise a process which will allow it to comply with regulation 37 at minimal cost, and without visiting anxiety and real harm on vulnerable disabled former officers.

Staffordshire Police tell a good story, but just like those of Mark Twain, it is complete fiction. And not even slightly amusing.

CC Morgan refuses pensioner’s legal representatives to attend a meeting

CC Morgan refuses pensioner’s legal representatives to attend a meeting

We recently published a letter sent by Chief Constable Morgan of Staffordshire Police to  pensioners in our blog found here – https://iodpa.org/2018/07/13/chief-constable-morgan-sends-letters-to-vulnerable-pensioners/

He invited pensioners who are currently subject to an ongoing review to meet him, so that he may discuss his obligation to make a determination under regulation 33 of The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.

Any such determination under Regulation 33 is a legal decision and Mr Ron Thompson of Haven Solicitors who represents a number of the pensioners has quite rightly requested that he and his colleague Mark Botham be allowed to attend the meeting in order to represent his clients best interests.

Mr Morgan has refused to allow the vulnerable pensioner’s legal representatives to attend the meeting on their behalf on the basis that

 

…it was not not my intention for the meeting to be adversarial in any way.

 

We’ve been passed Mr Morgan’s response by one of the pensioners.

 

Morgan_letter_to_Ron

 

Chief Constable Morgan sends letters to vulnerable pensioners

Chief Constable Morgan sends letters to vulnerable pensioners

Chief Constable Morgan of Staffordshire Police today sent a letter to former police officers, all of whom are disabled, either mentally or physically.

These pensioners have been under review for a considerable amount of time and have to date fully complied with The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 which govern them.

They have been sent this letter by Mr Morgan who has given them a week to comply.

Our advice is that these vulnerable and injured pensioners should politely decline his offer.

 

Morgan_letter

 

Watch out for a more detailed blog on this letter shortly.

Chief Constable Kavanagh of Essex Police responds to IODPA

Chief Constable Kavanagh of Essex Police responds to IODPA

Following the recent announcement of Essex Police to start reviewing injury pensions, and after reviewing documentation sent out by Kevin Kirby, we were sufficiently disturbed to formally write to the Chief Constable, Mr Kavavagh. Here is a copy of the letter that we sent.

 

Letter to Essex CC

 

Here is the reply that Mr Kavanagh provided.

 

CC Kavanagh Reply

 

We are grateful to Mr Cananagh for taking the time to reply, but still feel as though there are lot of unanswered questions.

The only way is not Essex

The only way is not Essex

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
 Cool Hand Luke (1967)

It seems there has been a rush of blood to the heads of certain people in the higher echelons of Essex Police. For reasons as yet unknown to the Police Pension Authority, which is an office vested in none other than the sole personage of the Chief Constable, Steven Kavanagh (pictured), has decided to commence a programme of reviews.


For anyone who has not kept up with ongoing events in the long drawn out and sorry saga of police injury pension maladministration which has blighted the lives of far too many disabled former officers, here is a brief recap.

A ‘review’ is shorthand for what happens when a Police Pension Authority (PPA) exercises a power of discretion conferred on it by Regulation 37 of The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. A PPA decides to check whether the degree of disablement of an officer, retired with an injury pension, has altered.

It sounds simple, and it is simple. All a PPA has to do is follow the Regulations and be familiar with the ample case law which provides clarity should explanation be needed. Or, if they fancy a lighter but no less helpful read, HR managers could do no better than study the blogs which IODPA has thoughtfully provided to help educate them.

Yet despite this ready access to information PPAs have consistently managed to muck things up. You would think they were doing it deliberately.

In Essex, it is almost as though everyone who has had a hand in setting up this programme of reviews has been secured in a bubble, kept separate from the rest of the world, so they have no idea whatsoever about recent events.

Events such as the disaster in Avon and Somerset, where much public money was wasted in attempting to hold a review programme, which in our opinion was unlawful.

Events such as the Information Commissioner’s advising that Avon and Somerset and Northumbria had no right to continue to hold excessive historical personal information about retired officers.

Events such as the binding opinion of the Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone in the 2012 case of Simpson v. Northumbria Police Authority and others, where he made it very clear that,

‘The statutory scheme requires an assessment as to whether there has been an alteration in the degree of disablement first. A further quantum decision on the present degree of disablement is only permissible if the police authority, acting by the SMP, have first decided that there is a substantial alteration in the former officer’s degree of disablement.’

So, what is going on in Essex? What has prompted the idea to review batches of injured pensioners? And why has nobody – absolutely nobody – in management had the common sense and nous to look at the regulations and case law to see why their plan is likely to spectacularly fail.

It is indeed a failure to communicate on an epic scale.

More than a failure of communication, it is a failure of awareness, a failure of reason, a failure of professional competence, a failure of decency, a failure of knowledge and a total failure to treat disabled former officers with respect and consideration. There is so much wrong with what Essex is doing that in the space of this blog it won’t be possible to cover all aspects. We can, however, focus on a few elements which demand special attention due to their sheer crassness.

Let’s look at the letter and questionnaire which Kevin Kirby, Head of Pension Governance & Compliance has sent to the first of the injury pensioners who have been selected to undergo a ‘review’. Just who does he think he is, and just who does he think he is talking to?

He writes,

‘We will require a full update on your medical status since your retirement which requires you giving consent for release of your GP records.’

No, you can’t do that Mr Kirby. A review must only determine if there has been any alteration in the specific disabling effect of the recorded duty injury or injuries. One’s ‘medical status’ does not come into it. And neither does the record of a pensioner’s health since retirement.

He writes,

‘Please observe that the pension authority has full powers under the above regulations to undertake this review. It requires openness and transparency concerning your requirement to provide the pension authority with your consent and accurate information.’

Wrong again Mr Kirby. What are you talking about? The PPA has ‘full powers’? What do you think the PPA is – the dictator of some backward country bogged down in the Middle Ages? The only, very limited, power a PPA has, under regulation 37, is to ‘consider whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered.’ Where is the individual consideration in your sending out of letters and questionnaires to multiple recipients, all of whom are in the highest bands and thus represent the best prospect for the PPA to make reductions?

You can’t have your SMP make any assessment until you have carefully considered, in each individual case, whether a suitable interval has passed which will give good reason for the PPA to think a review is appropriate. You have not done that. Instead, you have gone straight to a process which is obviously intended to allow an unspecified someone to decide whether there has been an alteration in degree of disablement, largely on evidence of employment and earnings.

We do not think you have an inkling what degree of disablement is, or how any alteration is to be determined. Here is a clue for you. It is a medical matter, not a financial matter.

IODPA suspects that pensioners will be all too familiar with the authoritarian tone of a man who thinks he is in a position to order people to do his bidding. Pensioners, however, will know that he has no such authority. He has no power whatsoever to require anything of any private citizen, which is what all former officers are. He can ‘draw attention’ to the police pension regulations as much as he likes but even the most detailed reading of the regulations will not reveal anything which confers on a PPA the power to ‘require’ a single thing from any injury pensioner.

The questionnaire runs to six pages. IODPA will return to this most ill-intentioned document in full later. But for now, be amazed at how misguided the man is who thinks it is his business, his right, to ask you for details of your earnings, and then, astoundingly, requires you to sign consent to let him have HM Revenue hand over all details of your tax position, earnings and employment – since the date you retired.

To bolster up his empty demands for information, Mr Kirby then sees fit to issue what is an all too familiar nasty, and equally empty threat. He provides an Appendix A with his letter in which he seeks to tie his demands for information with a blatant but totally erroneous indication that failure to comply with all of his requirements will result in your pension being dropped to band one.

So, let’s round this up. We know that we are wasting our breath in trying to shock Mr Kirby into realising that he is just so very wrong in so many respects. He will, like all his colleagues across the country who have trodden this rocky road, go automatically into full defensive intransigent position at the first signs of any questioning of his plans. The only thing which will move Mr Kirby is when the PPA and SMP are ‘required’ to attend as respondents in a judicial review. And as sure as eggs are eggs that’s where Mr Kirby is taking his PPA and SMP.

Instead of trying to educate those who are deaf to reason and blind to accurate information, let’s close this by advising all injury on duty pensioners in Essex to file away Mr Kirby’s letter, questionnaire, and Appendix A for future reference. On no account complete the questionnaire. On no account give signed permission for the PPA to obtain medical or financial information.

Chief Constable Morgan’s open letter

Chief Constable Morgan’s open letter

Today Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, the Staffordshire Chief Constable placed an open letter on his website regarding the forces recent Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 reviews under Section 37(1), and the recent resignation of his Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) – Dr Vivian, who informed us last week that performing the role of a SMP in relation to these reviews had, “been a major burden”.

It was our intention to seek permission to reproduce the open letter here, but as Mr Morgan who is a prolific Twitter user, has previously blocked us, we were unable to ask. The article has been marked as an open letter, and so we will reproduce it here in it’s entirety, and also provide a link to the original so you may read it in all it’s glory.

Open letter

21.12.2017

Pension review of retired Injured on Duty (IoD) officers

On 26 April 2017 Staffordshire Police began a pension review of retired Injured on Duty (IoD) officers in accordance with Reg. 37 (1) of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 which places a duty upon the Police Pension Authority (the Chief Constable) to review whether the degree of the pensioners’ disablement has altered. Injury Benefit pensions (commonly known as Injury Awards) are granted to retired officers who have been medically assessed as being between Band 1 (slight disablement) to Band 4 (very severe disablement). By law a review cannot result in an injury pensioner being reduced to less than Band 1 so they are never removed in their entirety.

Since this time, and after confirming my intention to continue the reviews after my arrival as Chief Constable, there has been misinformation and misrepresentation of facts in what appears to be an attempt to besmirch the professional reputation of independent medical practitioners and Staffordshire Police. A small number of individuals have set out to campaign against these reviews in a manner which my staff have described as akin to harassment and intimidation – much of it on line and in the public domain.

I have always recognised that these reviews can cause concern and we have committed to expediting the process for that reason. I recognise that everyone is entitled to a view and are allowed to express it. However, the conduct of individuals is such that the independent Senior Medical Practitioner (SMP) no longer wishes to conduct injury assessments for retired officers at this time. The assertion circulating that the SMP left because he was being required to follow the instructions of the force and act unethically is entirely without foundation.

Every care is taken to ensure the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 and related case law are adhered to. I reviewed the process and sought legal and HR advice before confirming my intention to continue the reviews. I am entirely confident that the procedures comply with the regulations and are lawful, both in the way Staffordshire Police conducts itself and in the actions of the SMP.

So far, reviews have commenced for 34 people. To date, 13 have been completed and have reached outcomes, of which four IoD pensioners have had their banding reduced to Band 1. To date, three of these pensioners have stated their intention to appeal as is their right in accordance with the Regulations. Appeals are conducted by the Police Medical Appeal Board, which is independent of Staffordshire Police.

The pension benefit review has not been held in the interests of money saving and no savings are assumed in our forecast budget plans. In fact, the total cost to Staffordshire Police for IoD pensioners amounts to £3 million per annum.

The review is to ensure we are ethical and proportionate in the way that we use public money and to ensure there is a fair and consistent approach to all. The review will ensure that the pensioners continue to receive the appropriate level of award.

I acknowledge we have a duty of care to support IoD pensioners and we are fully committed to providing that support to the most professional of standards. This covers all 360 IoD pensioners we have in Staffordshire. I also have a duty of care to my staff which is why I am writing this letter to iterate that I will not tolerate the treatment they have recently received.

I would ask that everyone reads the information that clearly outlines the review process on our website pages. Appeals, complaints and concerns should be submitted through formal channels and not aired in such a way that discredits the working practices of my colleagues who are simply carrying out their lawful and legal duties.

Gareth Morgan

Chief Constable, Staffordshire Police

21 Dec 2017 17:00:08 GMT

https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/8802/Pension-review-of-retired-Injured-on-Duty-IoD-officers

He has stated that reviews are not being conducted to save money.

He has also stated that no-one can be reduced below a band one, despite Staffordshire Police clearly threatening to suspend awards if the IOD does not comply with their demands. (here is the before and after).

What saddens us is the need to blame extremely poorly pensioners for the reason for Dr Vivian to withdraw from the process.

We wonder how the Regulations and case law is being adhered to when we read there are at least three pensioners who are appealing.

Also, what was the end result of the other nine pensioners?

We notice that Mr Morgan has blocked any comments being placed after the article on the Staffordshire Police website, which sort of makes his rant one way. Never mind, we’ll be happy to accept your comments! As always, please make them constructive.

Finally we have to ask, is a “Senior Medical Practitioner”, a SMP who is somehow superior in position or authority to an ordinary “Selected Medical Practitioner”? Answers on a postcard.

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.

Merseyside Chief Responds

Merseyside Chief Responds

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”
― Edward R. Murrow

We puzzled over whether to put this in the “news” or the “views” section.  It is news, no doubt about that.  A chief constable has not only replied to IODPA but has given his permission for us to publish the letter.

We thank Chief Constable Andy Cooke for being open and transparent.  This is in stark contrast to Gareth Morgan, the former Temporary CC of Avon & Somerset and now the Chief Constable of Staffordshire who has blocked a registered charity on the Twitters.

So why is this “news” published here, in the “views” bit of our website?  Indubitably this first contact will hopefully be the start of many conversations we have with the two-hat wearing Chief Constables, but simply we’ve been here before and we need to give context.  So a blog it is.

We tweeted to Andy Cooke that reduction of injury awards in his force have been made without using a selected medical practitioner.  The letter we sent him explained our concerns.

This is Mr Cooke’s reply:
Merseyside CC Iodpa 290817

The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.  Chief constables are also the police pension authority, as well as the chief, with a overriding juxtaposition of not using the power of the latter to squeeze those adjudicated by the former.  Like Janus, the Chief/PPA has to be aware of what has gone on in the past; why words have to be backed up with trust and why trust is severely lacking in the sphere of injury awards.  What has happened in the past means words in the present can be glib and, with no disrespect meant to Andy Cooke, trite.

PCC Sue Mounstevens repeatedly said that the reviews conducted in Avon & Somerset were being carried out correctly when the true evidence was to the contrary.  She even told a member of parliament that all was good.  In November 2008 the Assistant Chief Constable Nick Croft of South Wales Police said it was OK to reduce injury awards.   Norman Bettison and David Crompton, former chief and deputy chief respectively of West Yorkshire, police defended unlawful reduction of injury awards by saying  “some very difficult and emotive choices” had to be made.  In 2009 a report was published by Derbyshire police that  talked openly about the savings to be made by reducing injury awards.  Here’s the table of projected savings they used:

Reviews undertaken in period 81
Number of reductions 38
1st year Savings £150,589.00
Savings projected to age 65 £909,229.00
Savings projected to age 75 £2,507,329.00

Last but not least there was Julie Spence, at the time the chief constable of Cambridgeshire who was adamant that she had to reduce injury awards even when it explained to her that to do so was unlawful:

“If it means that I will not use tax-payers money where I do not have the authority to do so then I agree” …
“I have sought and received advice about Home Office Guidance that NARPO had advised allows discretion, and been told very clearly that it is mandatory”

To say the evidence of legacy wrongs is vast is the understatement of the decade.

So back to Merseyside.  There is a disconnect between Mr Cooke saying a SMP was used compared to the first-hand reports of those reduced by Merseyside without seeing a SMP.   We know of at least five people who are clear that they were reduced by the Merseyside medical retirement officer, Peter Owens, on the basis of questionnaire answers.  They same the same thing: they did not see a SMP.

It is also worth considering the email the Avon & Somerset Head of Resources (finance & HR) Julian Kern sent to Merseyside when he thanked them for their hospitality back in 2015.

 We applaud the engagement of Mr Cooke and hope such communication continues.  There is a huge amount of historical information out in ‘the wild‘ that shows the real narrative of how injury awards are administered and we have the social media tools to show contradictions, such as exists between the email from Kern and the letter from Mr Cooke.

If the recollection of the past is wrong, is it misspeaking when a chief says things were done right?  It doesn’t matter that we can’t verify it, the objective truth still exists in the universe.  It also doesn’t matter that he feels like he’s telling the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northumbria’s Lazarus Syndrome

Northumbria’s Lazarus Syndrome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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