earning capacity

Everlasting Anxiety

Everlasting Anxiety

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
Anaïs Nin

It seems that those who oversee the administration of injury awards in Staffordshire Police have rather a special collection of ineptness.  Quite a feat to combine the malevolence of Northumbria with the idiocy of Avon & Somerset.

For a force that officially signed a contract and abandoned reviews in 2008, the errors and illegalities in the letter they have sent out to all those retired with an injury award is exceedingly far beyond any, even the twisted mind, could conjure up.

We’ve published the missive in full at the end of this post.

Rather than pointing out the obvious conflict this letter has with the Regulations and case law – such as the invented duty that the 2015 Police Pension Regulations* forces them to do this (!)  and the continual use of the word “reassessment“, today we are going to talk about this paragraph:

This letter is just to inform you of the reassessment programme. Whilst I acknowledge this may cause you some anxiety, I regret that at this point in time I am unable to enter into correspondence with you about your personal circumstances. You will be written to again directly in due course when your injury pension comes up for review. The process is expected to take at least eighteen months, so it may be some time before you are written to again about this.

*(Very naughty Staffordshire!  A blatant lie!  In fact these Regulations has no implications on injury awards as they only refer to the Career Average Revalued Earnings Scheme (CARE) scheme and the lower/enhanced tier only applicable to those retired on this 2015 pension scheme – the PIBR 2006 Regulations are the only regulations that concern injury on duty awards)

Wow!  Sending an unsolicited letter, that they know (or don’t care perhaps out of complete indifference) will cause or manifest an existing diagnosis of a mental health illness, to a cohort of disabled individuals – some with severe PTSD, all with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – and then sign-off by saying that they will happily prolong the assault for up to 18 months….

Just Wow!… What cave has Staffordshire been living in for the past five years?

The Department of Work and Pensions received a drubbing in the Court of Appeal back in 2013.  Court judges upheld a decision that the ATOS assessments for sickness and disability benefits discriminate against people with mental health conditions.  This followed an earlier decision by the Upper Tribunal that the Work Capability Assessment – the notorious computer based test which has led to hundreds of thousands of claimants declared ‘fit for work’ – substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems.

The Appeal Court said:

Tribunal was satisfied that the difficulties faced by [mental health patients] placed them at a substantial disadvantage when compared with other disabled persons who do not experience mental health problems

The judges found that:

  1. In my judgment, therefore, the Tribunal properly identified relevant disadvantages in this case as potentially relating both to the actual determination or outcome itself, and to the process leading up to it.

So to speak the obvious; who has Staffordshire seen fit to sent a mass mailing list to, warning the recipient that they will spend the next 18 months in purgatory whilst knowing full well that what they intend to do will cause them harm?

Rhetorical answer: Only to members of the public with both physical and mental illness, who are permanently disabled  and who are proportionally certain to have many of the mental health disorders that are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.

Bizarrely this was sent out to even the people they have unilaterally decided not to review such as those band ones and those over 72.

Even those with a terminal illness recieved this letter. Whilst it’s excellent that they won’t be further victimised whilst end of life, but why stress them with irrelevance? – an example why mass mailshots to those with a protected characteristic without due public sector equality duty compliance is unlawful.

Though we are experienced in the dark-arts of those who administer injury awards, IODPA is still perpetually amazed that some police forces think those that get injured and permanently disabled on duty have no rights.

Avon & Somersent DCC Gareth Morgan may be thinking that becoming this force’s chief may not be a wise career move after all!

injury review intent 20042017_Redacted
injury review intent 20042017_Redacted 2

 

 

 

 

 

Comparisons

Comparisons

“Comparisons are odious.”
Attr. to John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440.

In this blog we will be looking briefly at the inconsistencies, irrelevancies and plain old deliberate contrivances used by some HR people and some SMPs in their desperate and immoral attempts to swindle retiring injured police officers out of their correct level of injury pension.

It has become common practice in certain force areas for horses to be compared to geese and sheep. By which we mean that when a police pension authority sets out to retire an officer due to disabling injury on duty, they must assess the individual’s degree of disablement. To do this, some engage in an arcane and entirely invented process of comparing what the individual might be able to earn as a disabled former officer, with some other wage.

The ultimate idea is that if the individual could earn as much, or more, after leaving the job, then they would not disabled at all. However, even the most corrupt HR and SMPs tend to be wary of killing the goose which lays the golden eggs, so content themselves with merely manipulating the figures so that the result is a lower injury pension.

Of course, such an approach completely discounts the fact of the injury and the physical and/or mental disablement that the individual has suffered – and will continue to suffer. It has to be remembered that an injury award is only payable where the disablement is determined to be likely to be permanent.

What is at issue is how degree of disablement is arrived at. How HR and SMP collude to come up with a percentage figure.

A quick look at the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 might help understanding.

7-(5) Where it is necessary to determine the degree of a person’s disablement it shall be determined by reference to the degree to which his earning capacity has been affected as a result of an injury received without his own default in the execution of his duty as a member of a police force.

Clearly, most officers apply for an injury pension either shortly before or shortly after they are cast from their force. Equally obvious is the fact that all of them will be have lost their police salary, and it is fair to say that most of them will not have yet actually found a new job, and new earnings.

So, what HR and SMP do is to speculate about an uncertain future, and dream up a scenario where the individual because of their skills, qualifications and experience, might be hired to do a certain job, which pays a certain salary. None of this is reality. It is all maybe and perhaps. Nor is it grounded in practicality. Instead, it is simply assumed, on the thinnest of grounds, that the individual will get a job paying the amount selected.

That in itself is such an unfair and woolly way of looking at earning capacity that it is surprising that it has gained such a foothold in some quarters. We should not be surprised though, because the whole idea of this kind of speculation is to arrive at a degree of disablement which is less than the real circumstances of the injury would otherwise dictate.

If that approach is not bad enough, HR and SMP further collude to ignore the fact that police officers’ pay varies according to where they work. There is a national pay scale, but it is subject to local variation.

Workers in the capital are usually paid higher wages than they would earn elsewhere, as employers have to take account of housing costs and/or commuting costs.

There is increasing concern that the high cost of working in London, and in particular the high cost of housing, makes it difficult to recruit enough staff for the essential services, because people cannot afford to live within a reasonable distance of their work.

A police constable with five years service currently earns a basic salary of £28,098 plus ‘London Weighting’ of £2,373 – that’s some 8.5% more than a colleague in, say, Staffordshire, Merseyside or Northumberland.

The effects of the high cost of working in London spread a considerable way outside the encircling M25. Police officers in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley, Bedfordshire, Hampshire and Sussex all see more in their pay packets than do colleagues in other forces due to something called the South East Allowance. This was introduced in 2001 in recognition of the additional cost of living in the SE of England. Its purpose was to ease issues of recruitment and retention in those forces to which it applied.

So, if HR and SMP chose to compare a high potential wage which they claim the disabled individual could so, in some far-off city, with their former police wage, why do they not take the pay of Metropolitan police officer as the baseline for comparison? And why are overtime payments, which certainly most officers achieve, not added to the calculation?

Some HR and SMPs don’t even use a police wage. They select a nominal figure drawn from data collected by the Office of National Statistics. They seize on an average national wage, which is itself a fantasy, being the result of a 1% sample of the population taken two year’s previously. You don’t need to be a statistician to grasp that an average is pretty meaningless, for in any sample of earnings of a large population, the overwhelming majority will be earning more or less than the average.

What have the HR minions and tame SMPs been doing wrong when they use a heavy dose of wishful thinking to invent the uninjured earning capacity comparator?  Justice Garnham, in Fisher v Northumbria sums up their deliberate mistake nicely:

Since all the claimants appearing before the Board previously worked as police officers, and since the precondition for a claim to an injury award is the fact that the Claimant suffered an injury on duty, the previous police earnings must, it seems to me, at least feature in the Board’s analysis.

Northumbria’s blameworthy brainwave was, as the uninjured Mr Fisher would’ve reached his thirty years, the police salary shall not be the comparator .  They thought wrong.  Those behind the NAMF/NWEF orthodoxy that saw fit to reduce Mr Fisher’s injury pension to a 0% band one never once did justify their position on what Mr Fisher would be earning had he not been injured.  The judge quashed the reduction to the injury pension and surmised that the PMAB:

[…] did not refer to anything evidencing a change in his uninjured earning capacity

The question which still taxes many minds is why their eagerness to find injured comparator jobs in cities with high wages reflecting the inflated cost of living but their consistent unwillingness to look at geographic differences in the uninjured comparator?

We think you can do an immigration job in Heathrow airport”, they say, “but we will use the comparator final salary you had when you retired from Devon & Cornwall Police”.

Justice Garnham continued:

The concept of “earning capacity” in the regulations imports no element of earning prospects and warrants no allowance for market conditions.

In other words, in matters not where the job is – what matters is the person’s ability to do the work.

But if HR are selecting well-paid city jobs and saying the injured officer can perform them in their disabled state, why aren’t they considering higher allowances for non-South East retirees for their uninjured state?

Just because they never served in London or the South East, doesn’t mean they never had the capacity to serve in London or the South East. Police officers can, and do, transfer between forces.  Likewise, if the SMP thinks there is no medical reason why a job in Cardiff can be performed when the former officer resides in Northumberland, where is the medical reason that the alternative uninjured officer couldn’t have progressed up the ranks had the disability not occurred.

This is the realism of the Fisher judicial review.  No longer can the uninjured comparator be, as Justice Garnham put it, based upon vagueness where the:

reasoning on the issue of uninjured earnings capacity is thin in the extreme

The next time a HR minion says you should commute a 600 mile round trip to work in the centre of Cardiff, put to them the question of why they are using a city wage for the job they claim you can do when they aren’t using the South East police salary for the job you can’t do now – but were fully capable of doing when fully fit.

We in IODPA must wonder how many injured and disabled officers were robbed of being paid an injury pension at the highest level – for being totally disabled – at the point of retirement. Surely if an individual has not found work, because they are physically and/or mentally unable to work, then it is wrong to speculate that they could work and earn at some unspecified point in the future?

The Regulations allow for changing circumstances, so if the disabling effects of an individual’s injury substantially improves a year or so after retirement, then the degree of disablement can be put  under review and the amount of pension paid revised accordingly.

The mathematical gymnastics performed with such poor grace but evident crafty nimbleness by HR and SMP are intended to produce a result giving degree of disablement a whole band lower than it should be, and in an increasing number of cases, to deny the grant of an injury award altogether.

Merseyside take contortions of the maths to the extreme with the physics breaking ‘Cirque du Soleil’ manipulations of Peter Owens.  Their questionnaire has the evil voodoo powers of prescience by incomprehensibly figuring out earning capacity in a handful of loaded questions.  When these words of Justice Garnham were read by Merseyside:

The Board simply did not address what the Claimant’s earning capacity would now be if he had not been injured. Even when addressing the possibility that he was suffering from PTSD or his loss of skills, it did so in the context of seeking to determine his injured, not his uninjured, capacity

… their so-called medical retirement officer must have fainted.  Most, if not all, of their degree of disablement calculations are now arguably unlawful and open to a reconsideration.

It’s about time HR minions and give-me-the-money SMPs are made to justify their back-of-the-fag- packet sums. We look forward to further judicial reviews which will build on the case law established in Fisher.

We fully expect that the odious comparisons used by HR and SMPs will be inevitably debunked and demolished. Horse, geese or sheep – their chickens will come home to roost.

The Fisher Judgement & Uninjured Earning Capacity

The Fisher Judgement & Uninjured Earning Capacity

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”~Stephen King

In the Autumn 2000 issue of the The Independent Review, Hans Sherrer published an article called The Inhumanity of Government Bureaucracies.

The article can be heavy going but the conclusion pithily sums up the ‘the whys and the hows’ which lead an institution like Northumbria Police to treat injured officers so voraciously.

Sherrer concludes that bureaucracies:

“are the institutional equivalent of a psychopathic individual”

And when you have psychopathic individuals in a psychotic institution, well – you can guess where this is going!  We have recently seen the result of what happens when an officer medically retired because of an injury on duty gets his degree of disablement unlawfully reviewed and his injury pension reduced. Then to be threatened with backdating of the changes so as to claim the individual has been overpaid his pension, by a huge amount.

Only a warped and vindictive mind can think it right to chase a person for something never owed and think they can claw back invented over-payments totalling £19,567 – to be recovered by deduction of £250 per month from the injury pension which had been unlawfully reduced from the highest to the lowest possible level.

The inevitable consequence of such insanity it that you end up with yet another judicial review.

Fortunately, in the world we are inhabiting the monsters do not win.  In this blog we are going to try to demystify the judgement where a certain monster was slain … Fisher, R (on the application of) v The Chief Constable of Northumbria & Anor [2017] EWHC 455

The real importance of this case lies in Justice Garnham’s decision to quash a PMAB’s decision which had hinged on the uninjured comparator used by the Board.  But first we are going to explain why the judge declared that backdating the PMAB decision was unlawful.

The Backdating

Does the decision of a Police Medical Appeals Board to reduce a former officer’s pension banding takes effect from the date of that decision or from the date of the SMP’s decision being appealed, which in this case was 18 months earlier?

Although there are observations on this issue in decisions of the Pension Ombudsman (Henderson and Beale being two of many), there has been no case law precisely on the point.

There is now, thanks to the Fisher judgement.

In February 2015 Mr Fisher’s injury pension was reduced by Northumbria’s SMP Dr Broome from a band four to band three. Mr Fisher decided to appeal.

Eighteen months later a PMAB quashed the decision of Dr Broome.  The panel said Broome was wrong and then, incredibly, further reduced the former officer’s injury pension from a band three to a band one.

The key here is that the PMAB overturned the decision of Broome.  They didn’t uphold or modify the SMP’s decision.  Maybe if they had decided Dr Broome was quite correct then the decision would be affected from February 2015, but they didn’t (and this was not touched on by the judge), they said the opposite – that they disagreed with the SMP and they used new evidence to make that conclusion.

Justice Garnham concluded that,

‘It would be odd in the extreme if an appeal were to be decided on the basis of evidence of recent change in disability, yet the altered pension were to run from some earlier date.’

This does not effect other decisions, say a reconsideration decision made under Regulation 32.  Such a decision can be backdated as the heart of a reconsideration is as a mechanism to fix a previous wrong.  The decision is re-made ‘as if’ it was historic  – the reconsideration puts the decision maker’s scope in a narrow limit to the original available evidence (or evidence that should have been considered at the time but for reason was failed to be considered).

So, the lesson to be drawn is that if a PMAB reaches a new decision, then it can not be backdated to be effective from the time of the last decision, made by the SMP.  The corollary on any revision under Regulation 37 is when the PMAB quashes a previous SMP decision and the PMAB decision is not appealed the interim decison is the last final unchallenged SMP decision – in other words, the original decision or previous unappealed review, whatever the later.

This wholly consistent with the Pension Ombudsman decisions where he declares no revision to the injury award shall be made until all avenues of appeals are exhausted.

Uninjured Earning Capacity

Imagine a writer with literary aspirations who has never quite found any success writing popular fiction.  This writer just hasn’t quite ‘got the Midas touch‘. What he doesn’t realise is that he has a brain tumour.  It is this tumour, embedded in his frontal lobes, that means the spark, the x-factor, in his writing just isn’t there and his books never sell.

Remove this author’s tumour and the writer could be a number one best-seller.  The writer is disabled because of the tumour, which makes him a writer of only average success; the uninjured alter-ego is a writer of wondrous success; but both are the same person.

Stephen King once wrote some books under the pen name Richard Bachman, but the gag was blown by a book store clerk in 1985.  King immediately  killed off Bachman with “cancer of the pseudonym”. In his 1989 book The Dark Half,  he tells a story about a writer using a pen name  – it is the pen name that actually writes the great books, the author himself is just a journeyman – who is exposed and a murderous rampage occurs as a result.

How does this tale relate to the uninjured earning capacity of a medically retired police officer?  Ask yourself this question, how could the earning capacity of the uninjured author – perhaps a potential best-seller writer – be quantified?

Unless he comes into being, as the author of successful novels, it will remain an unknown. The same principle applies were he to be a potential employee of the year in a MacDonalds or top salesman in a used car dealership, or a successful security consultant. Unless he or she were to actually achieve those things then there is no point speculating about whether the capacity to achieve them is present.

But if there is evidence that the talent is there then the picture changes.  As any police officer will know, it is impossible to find evidence without looking. Once the ‘looking’ has finished there is then a need to evidence the justification on  whether nothing or something was found. Just telling the senior investigating  officer  that you did this or that enquiry or search is meaningless without a contemporaneous corroboratation; but this is exactly what Northumbria and the PMAB failed to do – thereby they tripped up.

Would you say anyone’s earning capacity is national average earnings?  If you are Northumbria police pension authority you would.  Bear in mind that national average earnings is not a real thing. Only a tiny number of people in the country will actually be earning that precise figure. As it is an average it shouts to us that the vast majority of workers earn more, or less, than that figure. To Northumbria police pension authority it is a real figure, worthy of being used as a yardstick for comparison purposes.

They quite happily spent hours and hours searching the job websites for jobs they thought Mr Fisher could not do (the injured earning capacity) and conveniently forgot (or deliberately ignored) to do any work on investigating Mr Fisher’s uninjured earning capacity – what the man could have done if he wasn’t injured.

Mr Fisher’s uninjured alter-ego (think of the injured writer’s uninjured pseudonym) could have worked as a police constable up until his 65th birthday in a force that has never effected A19.  This was a choice that injury took from him.  Instead of a Gatwick security guard, why didn’t Northumbria provide the highest salary available for a police officer of the same rank Mr Fisher had on his retirement?  Why didn’t they test whether, uninjured, he could have risen through the ranks?  Or left the police to become a city lawyer?

Currently the top police constable salary is £38,001.  This should’ve been the starting point.  Northumbria flatly, without due consideration, said £25,146.

Justice Garnham said the PMAB blithely, unquestioningly and unlawfully accepted the figure provided to them by Northumbria police:

‘Although the Board’s reasoning on the issue of uninjured earnings capacity is thin in the extreme, it is apparent from the single sentence at the end of its detailed case discussion, that the Board was accepting the Defendant’s figures for the appropriate uninjured earnings comparator.’

So the injured capacity to earn was weighted higher and higher upwards towards mid-range salary scales and jobs in thriving cities (and not where Mr Fisher actually lived) and the uninjured earning capacity was an arbitrarily, plucked out the air – an unreal average figure derived from two jobs plucked out the air by a faceless Chief Inspector, namely a job in Gloucester City Council and a detainee custody officer for G4S at Gatwick.  Only a shiny-bottomed Chief Inspector working in HR department could choose jobs not only lower in pay than the injured comparator mean but also a 670 mile round trip commute.

A bloated injured earnings number compared to, and higher than, a low uninjured earnings number will always equal a zero percent band one.  And that’s exactly what they did to Mr Fisher.  Northumbria weighted their scales of pension justice on the injured side with large rocks and the uninjured side with a bag of feathers.

Let us return to our example of the damaged author.  What happens if the injured side is dull, routine, Mills &  Boon, silk pillows and lace – damned to never sell in quantity – and the tumour-less comparator is a Tom Clancy-esque colossus made of heavy-weight gold?

Of course, it’s plain to see that now the task of a SMP, or a PMAB, when deciding degree of disablement in relation to injury awards is to make the proper comparison between what a person’s earning capacity is when uninjured, with what it is given the disabling effects of the duty injury.

In Mr Fisher’s circumstances the start, the base, the floor must now be the police salary.  It may be higher – there is no ceiling.

Police pension authorities need to return to the reality of things and to stop speculating about an individual’s earning capacity as it might be if he got a job which they randomly think he is qualified to do.

The take home from this case is that the work of police pension authorities will now have risen exponentially whenever they attempt to calculate the degree of disablement. They will need to be more grounded in reality, and to provide real, provable evidence of what an IOD pensioner is capable of doing and earning.

The Fisher judgement had common ground agreed by both parties.  It was accepted that there had been substantial change to the degree of disablement and the Regulation 37 test to allow quantum changes in R (Metropolitan Police Authority) v Laws [2010] EWCA Civ 1099 had been passed.

The PMAB decision was quashed because they chose the lowest figure they could to represent the uninjured earning capacity, and because of this, they could not give reason to it.  Justice Garnham was more scathing:

‘. . . the reasoning given must be sufficient to identify, at least, the basis for the Board’s conclusion. Even taking into account its interim report, the Board fails to give any explanation at all as to what it is about the Claimant’s condition or circumstances which mean that his uninjured earnings capacity is now fairly to be represented by the earnings for the two jobs suggested by the Defendant.’

When a police officer is given an injury award the original decision uses the current police final salary as the starting point. But then this judgement is saying only half the work is done.  By all means use the final salary as the starting point, but investigate and reason with justification why this injured person could have had a higher earning capacity than their uninjured earning capacity.

An invented example may be appropriate to illustrate the point.

Take an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon who, after 10 years in the NHS, wants to join the police.  They excel in their police role but after ten years become injured on duty and are medically retired.  Like the successful author, this person had an uninjured earning capacity without a ceiling.  Private work, plastic surgery on Hollywood stars … the world, before the police and his injury, was his oyster.

Would it be fair to use his police salary as his uninjured earning capacity?  Only if you are a Nicholas Wirz. The surgeon has given up a career of healing the sick for one where he catches criminals, only to come up against a Wirz-trained SMP who has emulated the surgeon, but lacking the second part – for which he has substituted a willingness to abuse the Regulations.

This injured qualified surgeon and ex-police officer can’t return to his Harley Street office due to his injury but his uninjured earning capacity is still the money his surgeon-peers, the ones he idealistically left behind to join the police, are able to charge their rich patients.

Using a one-size-fits-all uninjured comparator is no longer good enough.  This is the take-home from the Fisher judgment.

‘The Board’s focus throughout its determination was on the Claimant’s injured capabilities and capacity, not on his uninjured state. The Board simply did not address what the Claimant’s earning capacity would now be if he had not been injured. Even when addressing the possibility that he was suffering from PTSD or his loss of skills, it did so in the context of seeking to determine his injured, not his uninjured, capacity. It did not refer to anything evidencing a change in his uninjured earning capacity.’

Anyone whose injury pension has been reduced on review by use of any sort of average earnings figure, or by use of the ridiculous Police Earnings Assessment Matrix (PEAM) which is favoured in some unhinged recesses of the police HR world, or any universally vindictive device that artificially replaces what disabled former officers could’ve earned uninjured with an ‘average’ have now the grounds to demand a reconsideration.

Did the police pension authority, via the delegate SMP, ‘do your legs’ by spending hours loading the comparison towards high injured jobs and low uninjured capacity?  If they did, then demand answers. Get hold of the figures they used. Ask how they selected them. If no acceptable answers are forthcoming, then hand matters to a specialist solicitor.

This essence of the case brought by Mr Fisher is that reviews are all about the individual.  The judgement declares that SMPs and PMABs can not just pull something out of thin air on wages and earning capacity and then hide behind their proclamation.  They have to be able to justify the reasoning.

The workload of HR departments and SMPs has just been catapulted into the stratosphere, and it is time they faced the monsters and ghosts which inhabit their twisted minds.

 

 

 

 

 

Wirz loses High Court challenge

Wirz loses High Court challenge

BREAKING: Northumbria and PMAB’s Regulation 37 methodology DEFEATED in a judicial review.
Fisher, R (on the application of) v The Chief Constable of Northumbria & Anor [2017] EWHC 455 (Admin) (08 March 2017)

Nicholas Wirz, Northumbria Police’s principal solicitor as well as the National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum’s (NWEF/NAMF) self-declared legal advisor, has suffered a humiliating legal defeat over his unlawful interpretation of comparators used by many SMPs and PMABs to calculate earning capacity.

A feature length blog on the implications of the Fisher v Northumbria judgement will follow soon.  This judicial review quashes the decision of a PMAB panel that, in 2016, reduced him from a band 3 to a band 1.  It is the culmination of a 11 year battle fought against Wirz and Northumbria police.

Shockingly this isn’t the first time Mr Fisher has had his injury pension unlawfully reduced.  The Journal (along with The Chronicle, it is part of the North East’s most popular newspaper group) printed in 2008 a feature concerning the odious vendetta of Wirz against this former officer.

In March 1998 The Journal reported that his injury pension had been reduced before, by £1200, only to be restored on appeal.  The article described how Mr Fisher was medically retired from Northumbria police after being called to the Kirkley Hall mink farm on the outskirts of Ponteland, Northumberland, to police an animal rights demonstration, when a cross-breed Rottweiler sank his teeth into his lower right arm. The animal had been fed on the remains of dead minks and Mr Fisher spent five days in hospital undergoing numerous emergency surgeries when the wound became infected.

He needed almost 40 stitches to the gash and his injuries were so severe he lost full control of the fingers in his hand.  This incident was the culmination of fighting the symptoms of PTSD after being injured in an on-duty knife attack in 1992.

The Chronicle recently published that on Wednesday 8th March, Mr Justice Garnham allowed Mr Fisher’s challenge against the Chief Constable of Northumbria and the PMAB:
Bitten policeman battles off bid to slash his pension

The grounds lost by Northumbria have implications on any SMP or PMAB decision where the earning capacity was based on comparative earnings as well as where the decision made fails to give sufficient reasoning to identify, at least, the basis for the medical authority’s conclusion on uninjured comparators.

We will keep our readers up to date on the ramifications and discuss how a reconsideration, or the Pension Ombudsman, can be used to relook at unsafe historical revisions to injury awards.

The decision of the PMAB has been quashed by Justice Garnham.  Points 1 & 4 (below) were won in favour of Mr Fisher and the PMAB decision has been overturned.  Points 2 & 3 failed but the judge made it clear in his judgment that a reasoned decision of uninjured earning capacity has to be made by the decision maker.  The corollary is that picking random jobs has to be justified and reasoned.

The PMAB, as a delegated decision maker on behalf Of the Chief Constable, made the following errors in reaching this decision:

  • The PMAB erred because it failed to use the Claimant’s potential police earnings as the uninjured earnings comparator;
  • Further the Chief Constable erred in back-dating the effect of the decision to 27 February 2015 and thus claiming that the Chief Constable had overpaid the Claimant when, in law, the decision only took effect at the date that it was made by the PMAB and so there no back-dating.

 

Contrasting Medical Reports

Contrasting Medical Reports

Are you sure the report, the one the selected medical practitioner disclosed to you about your  permanent disablement and degree of disability, is the only report in existence?

Could there be another report out in the wild? Did the force actually receive the ‘true’ copy?

Maybe this second report was never intended for your eyes to see.   This hidden report is how the Human Resources director dreamt it to be.    Flawed, corrupted, damaged by the fevers, intoxication, hate and unforgiveness of it’s SMP author.  The report you never get to read tells the story of what the doctor truly thinks about your medical condition – how little your earning capacity is affected; how he doubts your symptoms.

Such deviousness has a precedent.  In July 2016 The High Court granted insurance company LV= permission to bring committal proceedings against solicitors from a defunct law firm after two contrasting medical reports emerged in a road traffic case they were handling.

Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith, sitting as a High Court judge,described the differences between the two reports – one served on the insurer and the other included in the trial bundle – as “stark”.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2016/2590.html

  1. The contrast between the two reports is stark. In the report disclosed with the claim, Mr Iqbal had suffered whiplash injuries to the neck and to the wrist, with a 6-8 month recovery period; whereas the report included in the bundle sets out that Mr Iqbal had mild pain and stiffness on the day of the accident but the symptoms, due to a whiplash injury, resolved 1 week from the date of the accident. The diagnosis of a whiplash injury to the wrist does not even make sense.

How does this relate to Police Injury Awards you may well ask?

These minutes from a Thames Valley Federation meeting suggest not only does this practice happen to retired police officers, but a senior HR manager recently resigned because his involvement in this intentionally and consciously performed misdeed was found out.

ibb-draft-minutes-010816

On page four there’s this quote:

IHR’s
It remains challenging to secure IHR’s as officers are increasingly asked to explore alternative treatment options. It has come to light that in some cases and at the instruction of the force legal team, that some officers seeking IHR but who have active or potential legal claims against the force, are having detailed capability reports prepared by the SMP, withheld. The force through the CHSS* have indicated that this practice has only been adopted in the last half a dozen cases. The CHSS has provided the full reports upon written request by officers. Haven Solicitors are coordinating the investigation into this practice and JW has made PFEW aware of this practice through the National General Secretary and Martyn Mordecai. Chris Sharp has resigned his position as CHSS, in part on the back of this nonregulatory practice. He will leave us in October.

[*Head of Corporate Health & Support Services]

So just like the contrasting medical reports in the 2016 LV= case,  Chris Sharp the Head of Corporate Health and Pensions Manager at Thames Valley police seemingly commissioned and then withheld capability reports, resplendent in greater sensitive medical detail than the ‘other’ report, from the former officers.  This was performed with the blessing of the force’s legal services department.

And he has resigned as a consequence.

If this is true then the SMP and Thames Valley may have fallen foul of countless pieces of legislation from the Data Protection act to the Access to Medical Reports Act.

In the LV= court case Counsel was perturbed by the existence of two reports.  Counsel was clearly concerned that there was a deliberate alteration of the report to put forward a stronger case for damages.

In The Police Injury Benefit Regulations the qualified medical authority is asked to provide ‘A’ report.  Not two.  Not a ‘certificate’  A Report.  Singular.

Is it the case that Thames Valley has been using the existence of two reports to ‘put forward’ (read bias) the case to reduce the award banding?  And by not disclosing the report benefiting by handicapping any future appeal?

No, surely not…  it surely can’t be that the administration of injury awards is that rife with corruption!  (ahem)

 

The ICE… is gonna BREAK!

The ICE… is gonna BREAK!

“He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human


The ultimate temperature test of a Police Pension Authority’s malevolence towards injury awards is how they consider what is a self-created paradox of the ‘band one issue’.

The end game of some Police Pension Authorities is to achieve reduction of all injury pension payments by means of unlawful reviews. But what to do with those who can’t be reduced further? What to do with disabled former officers who are on band one, the lowest band of payment?

Band one presents them with a conundrum. Their thoughts run like this. Reviewing band one pensions might open a box of worms. Should we review them? If we do, then we can’t reduce them, so it would be a waste of time and money, but some of them might well qualify for an increase in payment, which would cost us money. We might also uncover a lot of historical maladministration and face endless complaints, appeals and litigation, which would also cost us money. If we don’t review them, then we leave ourselves open to accusations of disablement discrimination. We can hardly claim we have a duty to review if we then decide not to review band ones.

For so long as these rogue police pension authorities try to justify the contradiction that it’s ‘not all about savings’ whilst holding reviews which so very obviously are for the sole purpose of attempting to save money, they will find it harder to maintain their stance indefinitely and, meanwhile the ice they skate on is getting thinner and thinner.

Staffordshire Police, for example, have a tendency to use dubious practices when an injury award is first decided, such as using their arcane Police Earning Assessment Matrix, to bias the calculation of the degree of disablement heavily so as to only produce disablement levels within band one.

Other police forces such as Merseyside and Nottinghamshire go out of their way to review those in receipt of a band two award and above, so regularly and unlawfully that it just becomes a matter of time until the medical retirement officer civilian or the ‘gun for hire’ SMP succeeds in reducing the award to levels acceptable to the force accountants, but unacceptable and unlawful in respect to legislation.

Merseyside clearly implied in their answer to a freedom of information request that people with injury awards can only ever improve, never deteriorate.  In any case, it seems Merseyside is of the opinion that if the people they medically retire do deteriorate they can’t be bothered to find out.  Action by a public authority cannot be lawful unless there is a positive power that falls within legal restrictions and discharges lawful duties.  Cherry-picking how and when to impose a power isn’t any of these things.

Band 1 will not be reviewed unless requested by the former officer and in that case they would be seen as a priority.

response-table-dj-092-14

“Seen as a priority” can be interpreted as getting a quick phone call back from Merseyside, from a panicky medical retirement officer, who is intent on convincing the vulnerable that it’s futile to attempt to justify an increase to an award.

Then there are forces like Cambridgeshire, who zealously carried out the unlawful Home Circular 46/2004 whilst deceitfully telling those it affected that it was never about the money, when, in reality, it was always all about the money. Cambridgeshire spent a small fortune of taxpayers’ money in pursuit of illusive savings only to find they were on a fool’s errand. In 2010, Cambridgeshire suspended all reviews. Then in 2012 produced a new policy which limited the number of reviews. Recently there has been a decision to suspend their so-called ‘proactive’ review program. A report to Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Force Executive Board by the new Director of Human Resources, who runs the recently-formed tripartite Beds/Cambs/Herts HR function, recommends,

‘That in the absence of current national guidance on Injury Award Reviews and the diminishing likelihood of accruing further savings, the current proactive review process be suspended. Recipients will still be able to request reviews where, for example, they believe that there has been a significant change in their degree of disablement, relative to the relevant injury.’

And –

‘The process of carrying out first reviews has generated some savings through the reduction in bandings of allowance for some recipients. However, experience shows that any further reductions in bandings is less likely as a result of second and further reviews.’

Ooops! A bit of a slip there. Do we hear the ominous crack of breaking ice? An admission by Cambs that the driving force behind reviews has always been to achieve savings. No mention of the true intent of the provision of a review process in the Regulations, which is to ensure that disabled former officers continue to receive the amount of injury pension which their disablement qualifies them for, should their degree of disablement alter substantially – for worse, or for better. We suspect, however, that it is less of a slip but rather some sure-footed footwork by a Director who has her heart and her brain fully ethically engaged. She has perhaps recognised the dreadful impact which unlawful or unnecessary reviews bring, to the individuals concerned, and in a different, financial, budget-busting way, to the forces concerned.

The review provision in the Regulations care not what band a person is. The Regulations are blind to the cost implications. Approaching reviews from the point of view of using them to save money is unlawful and immoral. As we have said many a time, injury awards are a form of compensation of work related injuries quantified by the affect the injury has had on a person’s capacity to earn.

Instead of their true purpose, some police pension authorities have corrupted injury awards into the politics of welfare, to what can be termed a ‘race to the bottom’; that is, a drive to cut costs, provision and standards.

There would be a massive improvement in the discourse of injury awards if those who administer the Regulations would calm down enough to think hard about what was being said and to examine its possible truth value.

If the rogue Police Pension Authorities could, for once, examine the ‘heat’ they put into liking or advocating the unpleasant things, plastered all in the emails they distribute between themselves behind closed doors, and start to see the light, there would less opportunity for any independent observer to incessantly impute badness to these people.

Their public face says reviews are nothing to do with the money. Safely sat at their desks their half-truths and lies are forgotten whilst the hot potato of unlawful reviews is put aside to allow them to concentrate on the pressure from above, from the bean-counters and ignorant Chief Constables who see only balance sheets.

The burning – indeed ice melting – question is why would a certain HR manager, one who has been at the centre of the review fiasco in Avon & Somerset since its inception, think its appropriate to ask her force’s Finance Director whether band ones should be reviewed?

There’s nothing in the Regulations to say band ones should be treated any differently from any other band … so, with asinine brashness, Avon & Somerset’s Police Human Resources Manager of Planning, Christine Jones, brings the whole massive iceberg to the surface in her witless puzzlement of why the heck are they even considering to review band ones!

Come on guys, what’s the point? – she asks. It’s not as if we can reduce them any further!

jones-bulpitt-19112015

Realising the thin ice that Jones is blundering across has not only cracked but in danger of shattering, Dr Bulpitt, the force’s highly paid Medical Advisor, attempts damage limitation concerning any ‘wild’ assertion from his staff that this is all about reducing people and saving money.

With a rheumy eye to future disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Bulpitt, steps in to suggest that he is only doing this mass review program for the benefit of the unfortunate band ones!

bulpitt-jones-30112015

So, according to the kindly, caring Dr David Bulpitt, those former officers who are on the highest band, classified in the Regulations as being the victims of ‘very serious disablement’ as a result of performing their duty, are nothing less than ‘selfish’ and ‘fortunate’.

It seems, from this memo, that once Bulpitt thinks the cracking, popping, chirping and pinging from the ice has lessened from Jones’ heavy footfalls, his Tourettes kicks in and normal service resumes. He reverts to his usual nasty, brash, inconsiderate, disability discriminatory self. His memo reveals he thinks his attempts to say as many people should be increased than reduced has stopped the ice from weakening.

His disingenuous claim that reviews are ‘all about the band ones‘ doesn’t, in any way imaginable, mask his claim that those forced to end their career with a severe disability to their earning capacity are ‘fortunate‘ and ‘selfish‘ in their desire to be treated both with dignity and within the law.

Let’s be clear – a doctor, a highly paid medical professional, employed by a police force, has gone on public record that people with a severe degree of disablement which ended their police career are ‘fortunate’ and ‘selfish’.

Why is Dr Bulpitt’s statement about band ones all pretence and covering-his-back bluster? Because in Avon & Somerset between 2005 to 2010 there was not a single increase to any injury award at all. Not only was no single person with a band one increased, there were no increases at all of any banding.

Dr Bulpitt could, of course, send a letter out to every one of the 70 band ones identified by Christine Jones and ask them politely if there has been a deterioration to their medical condition. It is fair to say the probability of him sending such a letter is less than that of Donald Trump converting to Islam and still being elected President.

Dr Bullpitt could also, of course, recommend to his Police Pension Authority, who is the Chief Constable, that he hire another SMP just to review all those on band one. Band one pensioners would be unlikely to object, wouldn’t they? He has chosen not to make that recommendation, for the simple reason that his words are a sham. He has no intention of wanting to see band ones reviewed. He records his fake concern for them only to lay down a get out of goal free card, should he need it. Perhaps this is a sign that he realises the end is now not very far away?

Just like the dungeon scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Dr Bulpitt is effectively saying this to those on any award higher than a band one: You lucky, lucky bastards.  Proper little jailer’s pet, aren’t we? You must have slipped the original SMP a few shekels, eh?

There is no sign from this doctor of any understanding that those on higher awards could have been retired with a higher degree of disability simply because their disablement qualified them for it. He seems to be fixate on some unstated conviction that all bands above band one were the result of some sort of ‘fix’. He pays only lip-service to the fact that there are band ones with an award too low for the disability inflicted upon them. It is abhorrent that a clinician, with such callous condescension, can dismiss all historical awards which were given by his predecessors.

The fact is, Dr Bulpitt, that pensioners themselves were not responsible for deciding what band they were awarded. Those decisions were made by senior people within the organisation, overseen by the then Police Authority. Most, probably all of those disabled officers had no knowledge of the Regulations, and in the midst of the trauma of injury and enforced retirement could hardly have been in any fit state to query the decisions of those in authority. If you think that the ‘wrong’ bandings were decided, then why are you calling pensioners selfish and fortunate? Why are you not calling for your predecessors and for former Police Authorities and former Chief Constables to be investigated and made to account for their decisions?

Bear in mind though that those decisions can not now be overturned. The law is very clear on that point. Decisions are final, subject only to appeal within certain time limits, now long past. Also, can you imagine the disastrous publicity which would ensue should any force attempt to hound disabled people, not for mistakes made by them, but for mistakes made by their former force? What would the Home Office have to say about that, Bulpitt? Given that the Home Office might well have been encouraging Chief Officers to rid themselves of disabled officers at that time? A word of advice, Doc – don’t go looking for any support in that direction. They have long decided they want nothing more to do with existing injury pensions; having sipped from the poisoned chalice once they are not coming back for another quaff. Ask the suddenly retired, aged 54, former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire what support she got from the Home Office when her particular injury pension scam was revealed in all its sordid glory.

We’ve mentioned that Dr Bulpitt seems to be clumsily mitigating Christine Jones’ attitude to band ones, knowing full well that the emails he types can find their way in the public domain. But isn’t it more than likely that Jones is just saying exactly what she has learnt from the jerky personality of Dr Bulpitt? Hierarchy works like this: when anger and intimidation flow down, initiative stops flowing up.

Christine Jones has summarised the whole attitude in Avon & Somerset: Why review when they can’t be reduced further …

And why is this disclosure important?

Because serving officers are currently in the ‘care’ of Dr Bulpitt and the culture of disrespect towards disabled former officer is not confined to them – it extends to any serving officer unfortunate enough to become injured on duty. Dr Bulpitt’s words are but a visible symptom of a deeply-engrained institutional attitude of disrespect which, if allowed to continue uncorrected will have adverse effect on the efficiency and morale of the force.

The link between harsh words and medical errors was reignited in 2012 when Lucian Leape, Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, published a two-part series in Academic Medicine. Leape and his co-authors asserted that,

‘A substantial barrier to progress in patient safety is a dysfunctional culture rooted in widespread disrespect.’

The series also reported,

‘Disrespect is a threat to patient safety because it inhibits collegiality and co-operation essential to teamwork, cuts off communication, undermines morale, and inhibits compliance with and implementation of new practices.’

The £159,000 remuneration of A&S’s Force Medical Advisor should dictate that the recipient of the salary is beyond reproach in their maintaining of high standards. Sadly the Bulpitt exception proves the rule. Also sadly, it is doubtful whether the Constabulary will do the right thing and dispense with the services of the dubious Dr Bulpitt. They could get a decent doctor for half the price: that’s a legitimate way to save money.

What is certain is that until the culture changes, the maladministration will continue, and people like Dr Bulpitt and Jones and Kern will continue to skate on thin ice until they and this particular police force sinks under the weight of more and more scandals.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Minimum Income Guarantee

“If you have got a condition that has made you unfit for work and which can only stay the same or get worse, I think it is just pointless […] to just bring someone back again.” – Damian Green Work and Pensions Secretary

 At last, some common sense. Damian Green was referring to people who are on long term State benefits for illness and injury which prevents them working. In a change of rules due shortly sickness benefits claimants will no longer have to go through reassessments to keep their payments if they suffer from chronic illness.

Now, what are the chances that the unthinking, unfeeling, drones who populate the HR departments of certain police forces will see the close fit of Damien Green’s remarks to the situation faced by disabled former police officers who have permanent disability due to injury on duty?

Think of pushing peanuts uphill with a rubber fork, or of meeting Elvis in your local Pound Shop.

The long sad history of maladministration of police injury pensions has taught us that expecting any degree of initiative from some people is an exercise in futility. They wait patiently to be told what to do, and then do it without critical examination or engagement of moral sense. That’s why IOD pensioners face so much difficulty and why so much taxpayers’ money is wasted on attempting to use unlawful means to review injury pensions.

HR drones fail spectacularly in some part of the country to understand that their job requires them to understand a few simple concepts in regard to injury pensions. And to apply those concepts in a humane fashion, in accordance with the scope and purpose of the Regulations, rather than in compliance with the ramblings of some crazed force solicitor or financial director, or on the unlawful guidance of some long retired Home Office civil servant.

One such concept is that of minimum income guarantee.

The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006, Schedule 3 gives a description to the injury pension granted to former officers disabled through no fault of their own whilst on duty. It is described as ‘a minimum income guarantee

In this blog we are going to be concentrating on what that means, particularly the meaning of minimum income. However, it is worth bearing in mind as you read on, if you will, the word ‘guarantee’. Which to most folk, save for certain HR drones and assorted persons of evil intent, means that the Regulations give a promise or assurance, which attests that the injury pension will be paid no matter what.

There is no small print with this guarantee. Note well, there is nothing about it being reduced should a pensioner have other income. It is an unconditional guarantee.

The only way an injury pension can be ceased by some default on the part of the pensioner is if the pensioner commits treason or is sentenced to at least ten years imprisonment for an offence against the Official Secrets Act.

The concept of the injury pension providing a minimum income guarantee is lost on those HR drones who park their brains alongside their overcoats when they commence their day’s work.

They may well have at some point unthinkingly, uncritically, adopted the misplaced idea that was touted by John Alexander Gilbert, civil servant in the Home Office (retired). He was responsible for issuing the nattily entitled, ‘Guidance for SMPs, Police Medical Appeal Boards, Chief Constables and Police Authorities’. [Hereinafter referred to as ‘the guidance’]

Mr Gilbert wrote:

How an Injury Award is Calculated
An injury award consists of a lump-sum gratuity and also a pension where, as is normally the case, the person’s other relevant income needs to be topped up to the level of his or her minimum income guarantee.
‘ [Emphasis added]

Even small child sucking a sherbert dipper and clutching a favourite teddy bear would, upon reading this utterance, have piped up and cried, ‘I may only be little but even I can see that according to Mr Gilbert an injury pensioner could never be paid more than the amount of his or her injury pension. The way Mr Gilbert puts it, if a pensioner earns a few quid collecting shopping trolleys at Tesco, the HR drones would want to reduce his injury pension by an equivalent amount.’

Where do we get the idea that the injury award is a guarantee of minimum income?

The Regulations clearly says the injury pension is quantified as minimum income guarantee expressed as % of average pensionable [police] pay. In plain language, the injured officer’s police salary is used as one element to calculate the amount of injury pension due. The other elements are years of service and degree of disablement.

And that is the last time any form of wages come into anything to do with injury pensions. Wages and earnings are not mentioned anywhere in relation to any review of degree of disablement.

Let’s be clear – there no link of minimum income guarantee with earnings. And a minimum income guarantee is not designed or intended to bring total income up to a certain level.

Why can we state this as undisputed fact?  The facetious answer would be if this was true it would be better called a maximum income guarantee.

The legal answer concerns the 2012 demolition in the Administrative Court of the Home Office guidance which wrongly put forward that a link with earnings as a ‘top-up’, is necessary.

Mr Justice Supperstone in the 2012 case of Simpson V PMAB & SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT & Northumbria explicitly rejected the position of Mr Sanders QC, who, defending the position of the Home Office and their guidance, submitted:

‘. . . that it is the claimant [the pensioner] who falls into error by seeking to divorce earnings capacity from practical reality in the purpose of injury pensions.’

Section 5, paragraph 6 of the guidance brazenly claimed that this imaginary link with earnings as a ‘top-up’ is necessary:

Degree of disablement 6.

For the purposes of police injury awards “degree of disablement” means the extent to which the SMP assesses a person’s earning capacity has been affected by the relevant injury. The link with earnings is necessary because injury pensions are based on a system of “minimum income guarantee” designed to bring total income in retirement up to a certain level.

Mr David Lock QC, acting for the pensioner, disagreed with Ms Sander’s submission. He submitted his learned opinion that the guidance is wrong in that,

‘. . . it mistakes earnings for earning capacity.’

The Court accepted Mr Lock’s view, rejected Mr Sander’s view, and confirmed that degree of disablement is assessed by regard to the loss of capacity to earn, and not by regard to any actual loss of earnings. In other words, a pensioner can earn whatever he is able to earn, and any earnings are irrelevant to the assessment of earning capacity. The correct test is to what extent has his ability to do paid work been diminished by the disabling effects of duty injury.

This is nothing more than common sense, and if any of that quality in HR people, SMPs and all others concerned had been less rare and less fogged by the insidious Home Office guidance then the case need not have been brought to trial.

Unfortunately, the residue of the misleading guidance still permeates the brains of those who administer injury awards. The effects have been damaging and long lasting.

Although the argument was lost, the pernicious after-effects resonate still. Certain people blatantly refuse to accept that their interpretation of the Regulations, based on the guidance, is wrong

They are the equivalent to flat Earthers who, given a globe for their birthday, would wish to take an iron to it and deflate it into two dimensions.

A minimum income guarantee isn’t a ceiling – it is a floor. When a floor for income is set, a certain minimum amount must be paid – as is the case with injury pensions. A floor for the injury pension does not create a barrier to the pensioner making other earnings.

Back in 1978 the case of an injured officer from Merseyside Police was discussed in the House of Commons. The basis of this exchange hinged on the thoughts of the Member of Parliament for the injured officer. Merseyside had cast a young police officer aside onto the scrap heap after being run over by a stolen car whilst on duty.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1978/dec/15/police-constable-turner-merseyside

Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department) was justifying that the retired officer was compensated for loss of status as well as loss of finance:

Mr. Turner has not appealed against discharge or against the degree of his disability, which has been assessed at 40 per cent. We have checked with the police authority that Mr. Turner’s award has been correctly based. He receives an ill-health pension and an injury pension, which have been increased annually since awarded….

A police pension is not reduced on account of any pay received from civilian employment.

I hope that I have shown that the financial arrangements that the police service makes for those of its officers who are unfortunate enough to have to retire on account of injury on duty are very fair. There is obviously nothing which can adequately compensate for Mr. Turner’s lost career, as the hon. Gentleman is emphasising. I hope, however, that the hon. Member will agree that the care and sympathetic consideration shown by the police service for officers injured in the line of duty.

The Secretary of State was explicitly saying in the House of Commons that Mr Turner, as a former officer with an injury award, could earn whatever he was able to without reduction of his award.  But Dr Summerskill did not end her point here.  She also continued that Mr Turner is admirably advancing his future prospects.

Ex-police constable Turner has been very much worse off ever since the accident, even though he has worked very hard as a clerk and has been promoted. He has passed a number of examinations which he took to improve his position and pay, and he must be commended.

Fast forward to 2016 and the self-created Merseyside Police Medical Retirement Officer, Peter Owens, would have felt obliged to see Mr Turner’s promotion as a certain indicator that his degree of disablement had substantially altered and would hasten to reduce his injury pension to a zero percent band.

The Regulations in 1978 when Dr Summerskill spoke up are in no material way different from the current Regulations. The only difference is the way they are administered.

And out of the seven billion people on this planet it seems only Mr Gilbert, said former Home Office employee, had the front to make the mathematically impossible assertion that a minimum can be a transmuted to ‘top-up’ to a maximum?

Although his UK Human Resources acolytes still follow his discredited teachings, everyone else thinks a minimum income guarantee is just that – a guaranteed minimum income.

Other organisations in other parts of the World have experimented with the idea of a minimum income guarantee. Let’s look to Alaska.  The Alaskan government, for instance, has since 1982 paid a dividend on oil revenues to all residents, about $1,100 a year on average.  Everyone gets a payout, rich or poor, employed or not.

The minimum income guarantee, or the income floor, in Alaska is thus about $1,100.

Finland is considering an experiment that would give up to 10,000 people roughly $625 a month, tax-free, which would replace most existing welfare benefits.

In Canada an experiment with minimum income guarantee was called a “mincome” experiment, as in “minimum income.” It was conducted in just a couple of places, including a town of about 12,000 called Dauphin. It’s in Manitoba, a few hours Northwest of Winnipeg.

No matter if any resident Canadian then earned big money working as a ‘Ice Road Trucker’, they would still get the payment.

The experiment was never finalised and a report never issued but it was proposed to give those involved a ‘minimum income guarantee’.  Anecdotal evidence suggested that a guaranteed income can produce positive results.

What none of these guarantees ever did was to place a high bar and remove the income once the recipient raised their income over a set threshold.  That would be ludicrous.

Noticeably, there doesn’t seem to be a legal definition of a minimum income guarantee in the UK.

Is this because the term is so self-explanatory it needs no explanation?  It is only those who have been touched by idiotic Home Office guidance and similar advice issuing from elements within the National Attendance Management Forum who think differently.

Stop to think for a second.  Concentrate on the hundreds of former police officers who have had their awards reduced or removed entirely because, like Mr Turner in 1978, they have managed to gain employment after being retired from the police.  Now think of the reason: they disclosed a salary – or earnings.  And because of this the HR manager took it upon themselves to turn a minimum guarantee into a maximum ceiling just to save the force money.

This travesty must be stopped now.  All those affected should have their awards restored immediately.

Failure to do the right thing will mean this will inevitably be resolved in favour of the pensioners at Judicial Review – and that is something which we in IODPA can absolutely guarantee.

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...