Finance

Pawns in a Chess Game

Pawns in a Chess Game

“I like the moment when I break a man’s ego”
Bobby Fischer

It’s often said that chess is a metaphor for life.  There is an Italian proverb that says ‘At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box’. Chess mirrors life; no matter how lofty or lowly our position as pieces in the game of life, no matter which side we were on, when we are done with the ‘game,’ we all go into the same box.

It seems in the police service there have always been self-aggrandising Panjandrums of senior rank (both uniform and civilian) who seem to be without conventional morality.  They spend their lives in seeking to gain power over others through manipulation and bluster.  The sometimes try to justify their inhumane treatment of their fellow beings under the guise of less than legitimate ‘personnel management’.

They certainly never for a minute think they will all end up in the same box, their energies dissipated as they return to their basic inert elements. Perhaps if they did think more of their inevitable end, they might be more careful in selecting the means by which they direct their path through life. Perhaps their decisions or lack of decisions wouldn’t have such profound and injurious consequences.

Rather than seeing an injured or ill police officer as a person, they see a problem; and they want that problem gone or forgotten without the hassle of finding a redeployment path.  All the better if central government will pick up the tab or, the modern day equivalent, the individual is pushed to resign or is made a victim of a capability dismissal.

We at IODPA understand all too well what happens when people are cast aside, careers ended and lives destroyed.  We are also aware of the difficulties currently serving and injured officers face in gaining their right to ill-health retirement.

Why has there been such a tempestuous imbalance with ill-heath retirements?  Power games by cruel and harsh senior managers have always happened: instead of the pawn being thrown in the bin and replaced with a shiny new eager one, nowadays the pawn, held together with gaffer tape and super-glue, is forced to remain on the chequered square until they keel over and expire.

When you have been medically retired from the police service you start to see some things differently.  Not only is there the obvious suffering with the injury but there is the self-doubt and the readjustment needed to rebuild your identity.  Some people fail to make that transition and carry with them for the rest of their lives that they have somehow failed. The truth is that they have not failed, but that they have been failed by those in authority.

In our work-obsessed society, it’s hard to imagine anything worse than losing your career – amplified when that police career is your life. Yet people coming to terms with this also have to go through a series of legal and medical hoops to get any financial recompense. It’s time-consuming, stressful and undignified.

These struggles have progressively become worse over the years.

The 2011 police pay and conditions reviews conducted by Sir Tom Winsor identified that although the National Policing Plan for 2003-2006 required a reduction in the number of officers being retired through ill health grounds, the target previously set by the Government Actuaries Department was still at 6.5 retirements per 1000 officers.

However, Winsor’s research revealed that forces were only retiring officers on ill health grounds at a rate of 2.2 retirements per 1000 officers, significantly less than the recommended level.

It seems that all police services in the UK are playing fast and loose with peoples’ lives.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report in 2014 that looked into the differences in ill-health retirement across forces and found a strong correlation to both area-specific stresses of policing and force-specific human resource policies.

You can view the report here .   http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/wp1306.pdf

It’s a bit heavy on statistical modelling and forecasting but we’ve done the hard work and extracted the choice nuggets.  The report shows there has been a Machiavellian approach in the administration of ill-health retirements and therefore injury awards.

The decisions of granting awards mirror the corruption regularly occurring in review processes. Human resource directors have jumped from one extreme to another: first using injury awards as a mechanism to solve their manpower problems at the expense of the injured officer (by immediately replacing them) and then more recently keeping injured officers in purgatory by not medically retiring the individual.

So since the National Policing plan, what changes occurred to Police Injury Benefit Regulations?

None.  The only difference is how serving officers are nowadays on the capability dismissal roller-coaster and this, according to the IFS, can be squarely blamed on the Home Office enforced removal of central funding.

The IFS state,

However local authorities had considerable discretion, within some rather broad government guidelines, as to how they managed ill-health retirement. Hence, given this discretion, local authorities had an incentive within the financing mechanism to utilise ill-health retirement as a vehicle for removing lower quality officers (for example, those with lower fitness or general aptitude and commitment) from their workforce, wholly at the expense of national government

Previously serving officers were used as pawns in a horrific game of chess.  The sense of self-esteem, loves, needs and welfare of the individuals concerned were all dispensed with on the grounds of efficiency. The IFS state in cold realism that medical retirement was just a ‘vehicle’ from removing disabled officers from the workforce.

Enforced medical retirement can easily break an already vulnerable person, damaged by illness or injury, for to hear that the decision was taken as it suited the bean-counters is a bitter pill to swallow.

The authors of the IFS report call it an ‘incentive‘. Greed was the motivation behind the brutish push the force gave you out the door that caused you to land face down in the dust whilst the door slammed shut –  it wasn’t the physical or mental injury or God forbid both, that you have to suffer for the rest of your life, that led to your ill-health retirement.  It was the avarice of your superiors.

The IFS report continues,

For police officers, the incentive to utilise ill-health retirement as a workforce management tool was exacerbated by the unique peculiarity of the police officer‟s terms of employment, under which a police officer cannot be made redundant before the first age at which he or she could normally retire (i.e. age 50).

It should be noted, however, that high rates of ill-health retirement we also observed in the late 1990s among other groups such as firefighters and ambulance crews even though such workforces had conventional employment contracts

Troubling that all this was non-regulatory.  The police injury benefit and ill health retirement Regulations remained exactly the same.  Just like the Home Office guidance 46/2004 which poisoned reviews of degree of disablement, central guidance enforced instructions upon already incompetent administrators of the police Regulations – instructions that ran contrary to the Regulations themselves.

The IFS is missing an important point in this excerpt,

This discrepancy between the incidence of perceived local benefits and national costs arising from discretionary retirement was noted by central government and in 2006, among a plethora of reforms to the police pension plan, a cost-sharing policy was introduced by which part of the cost of ill-health retirement would be borne by the local employer.

Central government, instead of changing the legislation, changed the way extant legislation was implemented.  Of two hypothetical permanently injured police officers with the same disability, both facing ill-health retirement in 2006, one may have found themselves medically retired and the other denied the same route to recovery, just because they were separated by a matter of months pre and post the cost-sharing policy.

When an officer is permanently disabled from performing the full duties of a police constable then they are eligible to be medically retired.  Of course there is some discretion available to the chief constable regarding retention but the IFS neglects to mention that this is mutual discretion – agreed by the officer themselves and the police force.  In reality the option is rarely given to the injured officer.  They are abandoned on long term sick leave with no occupational health support, no welfare checks and no return and reintegration policy.

Interestingly this comment by the IFS seems to mention that weak enforcement of medical claims contributes to the high level of the retirements in the 1990.

Police forces have also been characterised by high levels of early retirement on grounds of ill-health, especially in the late 1990s when medical retirements were averaging almost half of all retirement across police forces (HM Treasury, 2000).9 Ill-health retirement rates across forces varied from less than 20% of all retirements to over 75% in the same period; the high rates being seen as arising from a combination of generous enhancement provisions (ibid, Tables 1 and 2) and weak enforcement and monitoring of medical claims by individual police forces (Poole, 1997).

Of course when the force is using medical retirement as a ‘vehicle’ for removing officers who can’t be fully deployed the argument is that this isn’t ‘weak enforcement’ of the correct processes.

Implying a lack of energy is a careless use of words by IFS as it masks the actual powerful and keen enthusiasm the administrators of ill-health retirement go to in order to get exactly want they want. What really happened, and is happening, instead shows an institutional and deliberate reluctance to invest in welfare and a mindset that is all too willing to abandon those whose health is destroyed by doing the job.

The Regulations are quite specific in saying that disablement is an inability to perform all the duties of a police constable.  The IFS agrees,

The criterion for ill-health retirement among police officers therefore stresses the officer‟s inability to perform “operational duties” – that is, limits on his or her potential full deployability such as in major public order situations and other physically and mentally stressful situations. This is a weaker criterion of “disability” than in most public social insurance settings where “disability” would be defined by reference to incapacity in any employment or to a specific set of disabling health conditions. In the context of police officers, this definition relating to “full deployability” links back to the supposed omnicompetence associated with the “Office of Constable”. Consequently, many police officers who were unable to fulfil specific duties obtained full ill-health retirement even though they were perfectly capable of engaging in restricted activities.

And then the IFS comes across the deliberate gamesmanship played by senior personnel directors who accelerate a life-changing decision upon an individual, purely based on the landmark of service and not on a balanced and unbiased view of the presented merits or demerits of the individual’s circumstances or condition.

There are distinct “spikes” in awards at those years of service at which the rate of enhancement increases, such as after 10 and 13 years‟ service. This suggests that financial incentives, as well as medical issues, played a major part in the process. Consequently, after the mid-2000s, efforts were made to implement standardised “best practice” medical assessment procedures across forces.

It is a sad fact that any serving officer who is facing enforced retirement due to long-term ill health or injury will be entered into a lottery. Some forces will handle the process fairly and with compassion. Other forces will see a problem with nothing more than a financial shape and will act accordingly. They will do whatever they think they can get away with to minimise or even avoid entirely, the cost of dispensing with a damaged officer.

IODPA, with its wealth of first-hand experience of the ways that corrupt, incompetent, uncaring or just plain ignorant HR managers and their unthinking, unchallenging underlings have visited gross harm on disabled former officers, now sees the picture changing.

The focus is shifting from being only former officers on injury pensions to include serving officers who have the misfortune to become long-term ill or are injured to the extent where they can no longer perform the ordinary range of duties required of a police officer.

Injury on duty pensioners have learned how to defend themselves from attacks made by biased ‘give me the money’ SMPs and ruthless HR managers. We are no longer the soft target we were disdainfully thought to be.

We share one vital circumstance, which is that we ceased to be subject to the often ill applied and misused whip of senior managers when we ceased being subjected to the threat of discipline proceedings.

We may be injured, but we are free.

Free to challenge and confront wherever we suffer maladministration. Free to prick the bubble of self-important buffoons who have no knowledge of the Regulations, yet who are ever ready to spout spurious justifications for their actions. Free to speak the truth without fear.

When finance directors see the outgoings paid out to cover injury awards, the entitlement of such defined in statute as being final once made, as a tempting object to this impecunious ruler of an impoverished police force and we are officiously notified that they believe their lack of money gives them enough reason to review of our degree of disablement now – when it suits them – we are free to remember exactly how history repeats itself given the force used financial incentives to discard once disability overcame us.

Serving officers are now seen as the soft target. How long before they too take a stand against the abuses which appearing in the ill health retirement process?

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.

Merseyside, Mr Kern and the Salary Fallacy

Merseyside, Mr Kern and the Salary Fallacy

bad dog 2

Here is a puzzle for your dog to solve. We say try it on your dog, for no human would be so stupid as not to get the solution in an instant.

If a blind person gets a pay rise of 10% does he see any better?

Using the same sort of logic, we conclude that the Medical Retirement Officer for Merseyside Police, Mr Peter Owens must be a particularly dumb pooch. He wants pensioners to tell him if their earnings increase by more than10%. In fact he requires them to tell him. Bad boy! Get in your basket. You don’t give the orders around here.

This is what Mr Peter Owens writes to disabled police officers who have just had their degree of disablement ‘reviewed’.

‘. . . if you commence work or if you are currently working and your gross salary increases by over 10% you are required to inform this department as soon as practicable.’

My Aunt Agatha’s ancient poodle got it in an instant, thus proving that some dogs are more intelligent than some humans. Or that all dogs are brighter than Mr Owens. There is no connection between what a person earns and their degree of disablement.

If there were, your GP would slip you a crisp tenner instead of a prescription for happy pills.

‘Off work with the old depression again, Mr Braithwaite? Here’s twenty pounds, that’ll cure it.’

‘I’m sorry to have to tell you Mrs Gringeworth, but you have malignant cancer. Take this bundle of used tenners. You’ll soon be growing daisies not pushing them up.’

Enough of the satire – we don’t want to be thought of as being cruel to dumb animals – let’s hand over to the legal experts, such as David Lock, QC.

‘Mr Lock submits that the test under Regulation 7(5) is based on the loss of a former officer’s earning capacity, not his actual loss of earnings.’

This quote is from one of the most important cases concerning police injury pensions –

THE QUEEN on the application of SIMPSON- and -(1) POLICE MEDICAL APPEAL BOARD (2) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE  HOME DEPARTMENT (3) NORTHUMBRIAN POLICE AUTHORITY (2012)

To save our constant readers the bother, IODPA has searched both the Regulations and the relevant case law and we can say with some authority and complete confidence that any salary is not, in itself, evidence of substantial alteration in degree of disablement.

The case of Simpson includes this:

…the reference to a former officer “no longer being expected to be earning a salary in the employment market” is, in reality, a suggestion either that a person who is not working has no earning capacity which is flawed as a matter of logic

We have pondered why, out of the 502 disabled former officers who were reviewed by Merseyside Police in 2015, a total of only 25 had their injury pensions reduced and not one was increased. The results from Merseyside’s reviews proclaim that, with none of the 502 people they reviewed, there wasn’t a single scenario in which the degree of the pensioner’s disablement had altered by virtue of his earning capacity deteriorating.

This does not sit right with us.  It’s one thing staying neutral on the reasons why 25 could be reduced but it’s going beyond all realms of possibility that no single person has gotten worse.

We have data from most other forces concerning recent reviews and, overall, nearly 7% resulted in an increased injury pension payment. On the basis of that statistic, Merseyside’s reviews should have produced about 35 increased injury pensions.

But the truth is starting to come to the surface.  Merseyside disregarded the memo from the Home Office which advised that all police pensions authorities should satisfy themselves that they are acting in accordance with the Regulations

Here is the full version of Mr Owens’ letter, which he sent to a former officer with an injury pension.

merseyide review letter

Mr Owens has invented a ‘Section 37’  – perhaps he means Regulation 37 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.  But reading his letter further, an invention of a new section of a new Act of Parliament seems quite apt as he does not refer to any known power in the body of police pension law.

Mr Owens says he has reviewed the award himself and has found no alteration.  Mr Owens does not seem to be a qualified medical authority, his title of Medical Retirement Officer and the missing Dr title, actually suggests he is a member of the HR department.  Finally Mr Owens postulates that the former officer is required to inform him of any greater than 10% increase in any gross salary.

Note the important absence of Mr Owen saying that he should be notified ‘as soon as practicable’ about any decrease in salary.

Let’s look at another important recent case, the Laws Appeal 2010.

‘. . . if there is now some job available which the defendant would be able to take by virtue either of some improvement in his condition or in the sudden onset of availability of such a job then that would be a relevant factor . . ‘

An improvement to a medical condition which leads the former officer to be able to perform work that was previously barred to him could amount to alteration.  Not a 10% rise in salary.  Earnings are irrelevant to the Regulations.

What happens if the former officer was medically retired and had been underpaid for his capacity to work for a decade but then received a salary increase as his company was taken over by a competitor, would he have to report to Mr Owens?  Mr Owen’s letter is a travesty of the Regulations.

Mr Owens has got it so wrong it is barely worth wasting time with demolishing his nonsensical letter.

But it shows clearly why Merseyside reduced 25 and not increased anyone.  They only reduced those who declared a salary –  irrelevant whether this salary was in relation to their capacity to earn as stated in the previous final decision.  And the rest were left alone but told officiously and with no power or jurisdiction to do so, to report any greater than 10% increase in gross salary.

This perversion of the Regulations wasn’t missed by the Chief Finance Officer of Avon & Somerset, Mr Julian Kern, when he visited Merseyside (descended ghoul like, a shadow drawn to the smell of blood) on the 17th November 2015 to see how that force ploughed through 502 reviews when he has only managed 9, at a cost to the ratepayer of at least £63,000.  Does he smell a way to dispense with the blundering, indecisive, expensive Doc Johnson? Is he hoping to rescue his plans for mass reviews by having a clerk shuffle the papers and make the decisions?

FOI 099 Email 1

merseyide review email

It seems clear enough that Mr Owens has told Mr Kern in person that:

  1. Merseyside has conducted reviews based on salary alone and uses this as substantial alteration, ignoring the medical condition
  2. Merseyside reviews without using a selected medical practitioner

Given this revelation, all of the 25 reduced by Merseyside now have grounds to appeal.  Merseyside has made a massive error in law and should now be held accountable.

Merseyside NARPO and Federation offices need to discover the 25 people reduced and fight their cause.

We say this. If any IOD pensioner is asked what they earn, the answer is, ‘Bad boy! It’s none of your business.’

If you were affected then please contact IODPA admin@iodpa.org

 

 

 

 

 

Why all the hullabaloo about IOD reviews?

Why all the hullabaloo about IOD reviews?

Injury on Duty Awards used to come out of central government funds but that changed in the early ‘noughties and the awards became payable out of the individual force’s budget.  But the Home Office threw a sop to the forces – now obligated to pay for their decisions they made to retire former officers.  Their redress was new Home Office Guidance – Home Office Circular (HOC) 46/2004

The problem is that although the Regulations are unchanged, many Police Authorities ( probably slightly less than half of the authorities in England and Wales) changed their policy following the issue of the guidance in HOC 46/2004 and introduced reviews triggered when the retired officer reaches the ages of 60 and 65. Although this guidance and policies based on it have been declared unlawful and withdrawn, forces are still attempting to find ways to reduce IOD bands in order to make budget savings. Existing injury pensions which may or may not have been subject to review previously were now reviewed under the new guidance which, in some forces was pursued aggressively.

HOC 46/2004 was unlawful and challenged – not directly at first – there was a blow-back and the new aggressive stance by Police Pension Authorities was used on other former officers, of all ages, in receipt of IOD awards.  Turner V PMAB and Laws V PMAB were case-law decided as a direct result of 46/2004 even though neither of the appellants were 65 years old.  This circular corrupted the administration of ALL IOD awards and the whole thing came down to ways the police pension authority can save money.  Lets not forget who had to challenge the unlawful guidance – incapacitated and disabled former police officers.

Turner and Laws were successful on points of law.  After that the guidance itself contained within HOC 46/2004 was challenged both by  judicial review (Crudace, Simpson etc)  and by the pension ombudsman (Ayers, Sharp etc) and the guidance was declared unlawful in 2013 in the consent order Slater V PMAB and officially withdrawn.

But the Rubicon had been crossed and the police pension authorities had tasted blood.  In the days of austerity how better for a high-flying Chief Finance Officer (CFO) to mark their career by making instant savings into their budget. If they can save ££££ then their CV and LinkedIn would be flowered up and then a new role with  an inflated 6 figure salary plus bonus will be within their grasp.  Like a plague of locusts, using the budget reduction as evidence, the CFOs think they can move onto a new force to decimate and corrupt the administration of IOD awards there as well.

Did the Home Office and police pension authorities accept they were wrong?  No.  The guidance was withdrawn and the Home Office and those forces that pursued 46/2004 maliciously had their fingers burnt.  Out of the ashes the National Attendance Management Forum (NAMF) was born.  A coven of HR and finance managers who meetup at Tally Ho! Conference Centre Birmingham. The cynically minded might view this organisation as an attempt to further undermine the regulations with an attempt to keep  keeping the sphere of influence separate so the Home Office doesn’t get the blame.

There will be further posts all about NAMF.

Finance Managers gone Rogue part 1

Finance Managers gone Rogue part 1

The delegated Administrator for Police pensions according to Avon & Somerset’s Joint Scheme of Governance is named as the HR Director.  The HR Director resigned suddenly in May 2014.  In mid-May 2014 the Chief Constable was suspended by Commissioner Mountstevens following allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour towards female officers and staff’.  In this organisational maelstrom, the Finance Director took on the extra duties of the HR Director in a grandly sounding re-badged dual role now called the Director of Resources.

But the authority of delegation ( the Chief Constable is the Police Pensions Authority but he is able to delegate the administration to a named other) wasn’t signed until September 2014 and with a clumsy attempt to back-date it by 3 months.  So who was steering the ship and allowed the reviews to start?  …

Letter from John Long to Julian Kern

It wasn’t on the say so of the PCC’s finance officer was it?  Nah, that’ll be just plain wrong … reviews of IOD awards should surely be solely a medical question under suitable intervals relevant to the individual.  Not because the force is broke, penniless, without means, on the’ bones of yer arse’, etc etc.

HR gone rogue Part 1

HR gone rogue Part 1

Serve as a police officer and you are treated as number, as a ‘human resource’ not as a person.  If you are retired on an IOD award then you become an ex-number that still costs them … and the HR departments will try to collect the pound of flesh as to balance the books of their Director of Resources. Like Portia said to Shylock – you can’t take what you aren’t lawfully allowed to take. Poor metaphor, sorry – can I qualify it by claiming the blood Shylock isn’t allowed to draw is the same as the case-law and police regulations they aren’t allowed to contravene? No? .. I’ll get my coat.

Rhetorical question, but why are IOD awards administered by HR departments ?

When HR has the same director as the Head of Finance then chaos shall reign …  To misquote Jessy J – “It’s all about the money, money, money”

31/01/2013 JOINT FINANCE MEETING

“Pension and retirement costs are significantly overspent due to the large
number of medical retirements; 26 cases to date with a possible further 27
cases identified by the Human Resources department. This overspend will be
funded through Reserves and the number budgeted for within the 13/14
budget remains at 12 cases”.

08/07/2013 Email from HR Director  FOI 1102 email

Edit note: (Why have case-law when you can try to ask the Home Secretary to revoke it !  And they subsequently denied that there is a ‘HR v2’ – the version that needed ‘damping down’)

24/07/2013 JOINT FINANCE MEETING

“The PCC’s attention was also drawn to the Injury on Duty Payment which is a recurring payment for someone who is medically retired but was injured whilst on duty (this includes the commuting journey). This is payable every year until death and currently accounts for £5.6m of the central pay budget (half). The Head of Retained Finance has raised this issue with Winsor following the Winsor Review, which did not pick this issue up, and the Constabulary suggests that consideration should be given to this ceasing at national retirement age. The PCC will write to Winsor to raise this issue again. […]

  1. Finance should consider managing medical retirements through a reserve rather than budgeting for it.
  1. The PCC will write to Winsor regarding the issue of the Injury on Duty Payment being payable until death”.

29/11/2013 HR/OPCC Meeting

“The College of Policing will be hosting an IOD training event on 31 January for SMP’s. A meeting of the National Attendance Forum will look at the agenda for the training day. MS asked if David Bulpitt looked at who is tier 1/2 etc. CW advised that the pension’s team is looking at this”.

14/02/2014 JOINT FINANCE MEETING

“Central pay overspend will be allocated to departments where possible in future reports. Medical retirements was discussed and the potential need to accrue this spend at the end of the financial year dependent on advice from

  1. The PCC sought clarification on the advice given to retiring officers on thelength of time they have to be retired before they can return to a staff role –this is dependent on how different the staff role is to that of the Officer rolethey were in”.

29/05/2014

16 letters are sent to youngest band4s (highest disablement) informing them they are subject to a Regulation 37 review.

A&S want to cut IOD awards

A&S want to cut IOD awards

217450070-Avon-and-Somerset-PCC-Wants-To-Cut-Police-Injury-Pensions

So that is what IODPA has to deal with … it all comes down to money.  The PCC seems to have forgotten that IOD awards are granted under very rigid statutory requirements and are governed by comprehensive regulations and case-law.  There is the possibility that the PCC didn’t actually author the letter – perhaps it was signed by her but actually written by the Chief Finance Officer for the Police & Crime Commissioner (Salary – £70,929 – http://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Document-Library/2014/Job-Description-CFO.pdf)

The PCC, ever the u-turntable politician, had a climb down:

I truly value the bravery and dedication of officers who place themselves in harm’s way

I would like to apologise if the tone and content of a letter I wrote to the former Policing Minister Damian Green MP in 2013 regarding injury on duty payments has caused any offence or distress to officers within Avon and Somerset and indeed any officer in the country who has been injured in the line of duty.

But then a few weeks on from the faux ‘I’m sorry’, her Chief Finance Officer reverses the apology by deciding that they meant it after all:

FOI 1231 one year on