HR

Collusion by Human Resources

Collusion by Human Resources

Who shall set a limit to the influence of a Human Being?

Waldo Emerson

 

Had the poet been around today, he might have mused over the influence of Human Resources (‘HR’) managers.

In this blog we take a look at another Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) case and reflect on how the events and decisions made echo the experiences of too many disabled former officers.

The focus is on the dubious and what surely must be unlawful practice by some HR employees of exerting undue influence on the regulatory decisions made by Selected Medical Practitioners (‘SMPs’).

We could also say that some SMPs are more than willing to be influenced.

The case we briefly explore is the 2015 hearing of Ramphal v Department for Transport UKEAT/0352/14.

Here is the full report:

Mr_I_R_Ramphal_v_Department_for_Transport_UKEAT_0352_14_DA

 

Mr Ramphal was an employee of the Department of Transport. There was a disciplinary hearing to investigate possible misconduct in relation to the expenses Mr Ramphal had claimed and his use of hire cars.

Mr Goodchild, a manager with the Department of Transport, was appointed to conduct the investigation. Mr Goodchild was supposed to act as an independent and disinterested party, and he initially produced a draft of his findings of his investigation report, including his opinion that the misuse of hire cars was “not deliberate” and that the explanations given by the claimant in respect of expenditure on petrol were “plausible”. Mr Goodchild’s first report concluded that Mr Ramphal was guilty of misconduct rather than gross misconduct and that he should be given a final written warning as to his future conduct.

There then followed meetings of HR with Mr Goodchild as a result of which the report was amended with the findings in favour of Mr Ramphal removed. The report now concluded that Mr Ramphal’s conduct amounted to to gross misconduct and recommended that he be summarily dismissed.

The matter went to an Employment Tribunal, which held that Mr Ramphal had been fairly dismissed.

Mr Ramphal appealed on grounds that the investigating officer’s recommendations had been heavily influenced by input from Human Resources. The advice Mr Goodchild was given by HR was not limited to matters of law and procedure, and level of appropriate sanctions with a view to achieving consistency, but extended to issues of the claimant’s credibility and level of culpability.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal found in favour of Mr Ramphal, stating that employment judge had failed to apply the decision of the Supreme Court in Chabra v West London Mental Health NHS Trust [2013], which set out guidelines on the role of HR in disciplinary investigations. In particular, HR’s advice should be limited essentially to matters of law and procedure, as opposed to questions of culpability, which are reserved for the investigating officer.

A vitally important principle was drawn on by the EAT, namely that an employee against whom allegations of misconduct are made has an implied contractual right to a fair process. By interfering with what should have been an impartial decision by Mr Goodchild, the fairness of the investigation and hearing had been undermined.

This principle translates readily across to the role of the SMP, who is an appointed medical professional tasked by a Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’) to make a decision concerning the pension of a serving or retired officer.

Yet we hear, on a regular basis, accounts describing how HR employees interfere with what should be an independent and impartial decision. There appears to be a complete lack of understanding in some forces that there is a firm line between offering a SMP advice on the law and procedure and inserting HR into the actual decision-making process.

By way of example, and this is a very common occurrence, HR gather in information, often in contravention of data protection law, on an individual’s financial and other circumstances. They then present the SMP with often ludicrous opinion on what jobs and what earnings the individual might be capable of. In this way they influence the SMP’s decision on the individual’s degree of disablement.

Such practice is appalling, but worse examples exist. We know of one case where a HR manager colluded with a SMP to alter the decision of a Home Office appointed medical referee. The referee had decided a certain level of degree of disablement, and this decision was altered to a lower level of disablement, and thus a lower level of pension payment.

We also know of another instance where a HR manager ‘advised’ a SMP to follow their recommendation that the injury pension of a disabled former officer be reduced from the highest level of payment to the lowest.

In a Northwest force, they took things even further, and had an civilian employee deciding the degree of disablement of individuals and then having the SMP put his name to a decision which the SMP had no part in forming.

The Regulations require that a PPA refer ‘for decision’ to a duly qualified medical practitioner certain matters. Clearly, when a PPA hands that responsibility to a SMP it must step back and let the SMP form their own opinion, without influence and without interference. This simply is not happening in some forces.

IODPA believes it is time all police pension authorities take a close look at the processes which HR departments have constructed around the way in which medical decisions are made. Police Pension Authorities  need to take steps to ensure HR managers and SMPs are better informed and instructed on the limits of advice and how to prevent interaction between SMP and HR dragging them down into a quicksand of unlawful unfairness caused by undue influence.

The Enablers of Dr Cheng

The Enablers of Dr Cheng
enabler
noun
plural noun: enablers a person or thing that makes something possible. a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behaviour in another.

Prepare yourself if your life has been touched by this individual, or others like him.

Ready? …  OK. Let us now ponder the contradiction that is  Dr William Chung Wing Cheng (GMC Reference Number 1631726). He is that thankfully rare being – a doctor who seemingly sets out to do harm.

As those unfortunate to cross his path can attest, he is beyond parody. There are just so many anecdotes of personal suffering inflicted on those forced to submit to one of his so-called ‘medical assessments’ in relation to ill health retirement or an an injury on duty award that there isn’t the space for this blog to go into exact details of his escapades. Suffice to say that everywhere he goes he manages to further damage already damaged individuals.

Rather than focus on what motivates Dr Cheng, which from the eyes of those put before him seems to be nothing more complicated than a greed-fuelled need to make money, we are going to discuss why Dr Cheng is employed as a SMP.

William Cheng is a name well known by those who read these pages. Troubling as his behaviour is, the fact he is given the opportunity to be unpleasant is evidence of the greater malaise affecting the administration of injury awards. How is it that a doctor who does harm is allowed to continue in post?

There are a multitude of reasons to think the ill-health and injury retirement process, and the administration of injury on duty pensions in the police is corrupted: the group-think of police management at all levels is one of them. Cowardice is another. Dr Cheng is the tool of the jellyfish: spineless HR directors synchronised swimming in one terminal direction by using Dr Cheng as their proxy.

In a just world disabled former police officers would not be placed in front of him only to be injured further by the trauma of facing not only his perverse decisions but his lies and his nasty attitude. Dr Cheng shows no compassion, no care, no empathy. He is a cold machine which has but one layered purpose, and that purpose is not to heal or comfort the sick, but to make money out of misery and make more misery so as to make more money.

Cheng is allowed to continue his work in this field as he comes across as a willing, arrogant, compliant part of a methodology devised by senior personnel intended to sideline and work around the Regulations whilst creating the illusion of performing a statutory duty.

Cheng does their bidding with gusto. He is not concerned should anyone find the strength to appeal his decisions, as he will earn another fee for attending each PMAB. For HR and Legal Services, and the bean counters, the appeal process is there to deter the vast majority from making any challenge. It is a win-win arrangement for Cheng and his paymasters. Over time Cheng saves them money. An injury pension paid at a lower band for the next thirty years, set against the single outlay of Cheng’s fee is a good deal. Every serving officer who is refused an ill health pension represents money freed up to be spent in other ways. Never mind that the Regulations are intended to support and compensate, in recognition of the inherent dangers present in police work. Never mind the obligation to see that the Regulations are applied fairly and correctly. Put such considerations to one side wherever there is an opportunity to save money.

Any suggestion that Dr Cheng is biased is portrayed as an assault on the entire medical profession and is seen as an affront to the vested interests in HR, as represented by the inner cabal within the NAMF , who would no doubt fall behind a campaign supporting Dr Cheng. We would hear from them that he is, in their view, independent and the appeals against him are just a consequence of the work that he does.

Yet from the evidence, the amount of appeals he generates appears to be a giant ball of flame hurtling into an abyss of despair.

These figures obtained from the Home Office show Dr Cheng has been responsible for a remarkable 28% of ALL PMAB hearings in the five years between 2010 to 2015.

 Year Total appeal hearings No. hearings that Dr Cheng attended No. these hearings that were appeals against Dr Cheng’s decision No. these upheld (appellant’s appeal successful)
2010 100 12 12 3
2011 73 6 6 2
2012 50 10 10 2
2013 54 7 7 3
2014 67 30 30 8
2015 93 57 57 1

So out of all the SMPs in the UK – of all 43 police forces, just one doctor has caused over almost a third of all appeals to PMABs.

% of Cheng PMABs appeals % of Cheng Appeals Upheld (successful for appellant)
2010 12.00% 25.00%
2011 8.22% 33.33%
2012 20.00% 20.00%
2013 12.96% 42.86%
2014 44.78% 26.67%
2015 61.29% 28.07%

In 2015 almost two thirds of PMABs nationwide were because of Dr Cheng.  Over the full five year period 28% of appeals were found against this doctor.

The woeful number of successful appeals hides a truth. It is surprising that even this many appeals are won given the very real David v Goliath situation faced by the disabled former officer, but the truth is that it’s not just Dr Cheng who disabled former officers have to fight – it is the strength in numbers provided by the closed of ranks of full bureaucracy some forces chose to bring to bear against vulnerable damaged individuals – it can be breathtaking in its audacious scope and scale.

Any disabled former officer daring to challenge a decision by Dr Cheng is immediately faced with a wall of resistance from HR, and all others concerned. They close ranks behind their shields, as to admit any error is simply not within their collective psyche. Push against the shield wall and what results are accusations of vexatious behaviour and insane warped spouting of concepts of ‘duty’ wrapped up in wrongly interpreted extracts from the Regulations.

The Legal Services departments of some forces can and do provide a supportive environment for someone like Cheng to thrive in. HR use them to attempt justification for their maladministration, but the old saying, ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies. The answer you get depends on the question you ask, and HR never ask the right questions. A HR manager seeking to protect themselves from blame will never ask an impartial question. If, by some fluke, they get a legal opinion which does not support their actions, then it never sees the light of day. Whenever HR say, ‘We have taken legal advice‘ they always, always, refuse to divulge what that advice is, thus avoiding the rightness or strength of that advice being subjected to objective scrutiny.

Do we have examples of how legal services conspire with HR to make life extremely unpleasant for anyone unfortunate to be placed in front of a SMP such as Dr Cheng? …

Of course we do.

The link below is to a discussion which is repeated in similar form in every meeting room, in every force that uses ‘gun for hire’ SMPs:

whatdotheyknow.com – IOD liaison minutes 23rd October 2015.pdf.html

Avon & Somerset uses the services of gun for hire Dr ‘Deadeye’ Philip Johnson but the thought process are the same.  Use the might of a public body to hammer aside the inadequacies of the doctor.

Official / Secret / Top Secret

Date of minutes Action # Action Update Date due RAG Owner O C
25/09/15 3.1
It was agreed that the Pension Authority could write to the individuals requesting that they release their information and that failure to do so would mean that a full review has not been able to be conducted and therefore based on the information available the award will be reduced to zero within a specified time limit.

Legal Services to provide advice to Pension Authority on wording of such a letter.

DJ advised the Pension Authority that when sending out letters to individuals who have withdrawn consent that a reduction in banding given can only be implied as you cannot predetermine and outcome if release is not made. The Pension Authority should advise what information can and will be taken into account when making a determination. This template letter will be sent in the first instance to TH, PT and AP who have all withdrawn consent.

DJ is an acronym for Daniel Johnson, the solicitor advocate (lawyer) who works for the Legal Services team in Avon and Somerset Constabulary (and as far as we know no relation to the namesake doctor).

The above extract is evidence the Solicitor Advocate for A&S, was willing to condone and justify a letter to disabled former officers intended to misdirect and threaten.  A threat that is in fact a blatant bluff. What kind of solicitor can willingly conspire to make empty threats to disabled folk?

We need hardly remind our readers that there is no provision whatever within the Regulations for an injury pension to be reduced to zero should an individual fail to give consent for access to their sensitive personal information. Sending a letter which implies otherwise is a deliberate attempt to pervert the intent and purpose of the Regulations. It is a shocking indictment of the complete abandonment of professional ethics by the solicitor concerned. Daniel Johnson correctly warned the Pension Authority that a reduction in banding could not be applied as desired in the circumstances described, thus covering his back. But, he then offered a work-around to HR, telling them to merely imply that a reduction could result.

So, could a reduction ever result when an individual refuses to give consent for the SMP to inspect their medical record, or their financial and employment record? The answer is that such an outcome would be very very unlikely, as the Pension Authority is only entitled to make a decision on such evidence and medical advice as they think necessary. In the absence of any medical record there would be no evidence and no doctor could give informed advice with no records on which to base his opinion?

We can guarantee that nobody receiving such a letter would know the threat was an empty one. They would see it as real and would think they had no alternative other than to give consent to allow all and sundry to pour over their sensitive personal data.

If a Police Authority were to reduce a pension in these circumstances, there would be grounds for an immediate appeal, probably by way of a judicial review. The pensioner might be criticised for failing to cooperate, but the court would then hear the full and ugly history of threats, incompetence, misinformation, and corruption which compelled the individual to be fearful, with good reason, that the process was unlawful. Why should anyone cooperate with an unlawful process?

We have written about this before, but, bearing in mind that our audience includes some decent but possibly misinformed, misguided HR managers, SMPs and force solicitors, we will once more present the relevant regulation:

Refusal to be medically examined

  1. If a question is referred to a medical authority under regulation 30, 31 or 32 and the person concerned wilfully or negligently fails to submit himself to such medical examination or to attend such interviews as the medical authority may consider necessary in order to enable him to make his decision, then—

(a)if the question arises otherwise than on an appeal to a board of medical referees, the police authority may make their determination on such evidence and medical advice as they in their discretion think necessary;

(b)if the question arises on an appeal to a board of medical referees, the appeal shall be deemed to be withdrawn

IODPA has no issue with lawfully held reviews of degree of disablement. We advise controlled and carefully specified consent to allow access to personal information relevant to the regulatory process. We do not advise that anyone give carte blanche consent to allow anyone to obtain, access and process their personal information. We see no reason why anyone in HR or Occupational Health should ever need to see any personal information beyond name, contact details, and degree of disablement for pension payment purposes of private citizens who were once police officers.

IODPA campaigns against unlawful application of the Regulations.

We try not to descend to personal name calling, but with the likes of Dr Cheng it is impossible not to see that the character and moral deficiency of the individual is the problem. We try to highlight the errors made by HR and others, and here we are really identifying systemic failures – maladministration resulting from a combination of numerous errors of thinking, faulty training or lack of training, the inability to accept that errors need to be admitted and corrected, the complete lack of good faith, the bias arising from a misplaced sense that disabled former officers, not the officials then in charge, were responsible for historic mistakes, and, above all, the repugnant view of injury pensions as a drain on scarce resources, making them a legitimate target for a determined and evolving attempt to reduce that burden by foul means.

So, Dr Cheng, we don’t like you, but we think you are the sort of pathetic morally bankrupt individual who is a gift to the corrupt managements which employ your services. Our real contempt is for them, as without them you could not continue to do your harm. Against this confederacy of dunces stands IODPA.  We are brave enough to risk to tell the truth. We hope and trust that the decent, moral, HR managers, SMPs and legal people who work without controversy in the majority of police forces will join with us in exposing and rooting out this cancer of corruption which is in their midst.

All that it takes to enable corruption to spread is that people of good intent do nothing.

Both are Injury Benefit Schemes – So why the Difference?

Both are Injury Benefit Schemes – So why the Difference?

“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.”
Muhammad Ali

Some police pension authorities still have their head in the sand and refuse to admit there is a problem with how they administer police injury awards.

Let us look at the difference between how the police and the fire service treat those injured on duty.

“Harry Potter or Dr.Who”, “Babies or cats”, “chicken or turkey”, “White Rat or Brown Rat”, “or even “Jesus or Hitler”.  Harry Hill happily arranges ‘fights’ that attempt to determine which of two people or things from a scene are “best”.

Our irreverent fight is between the “Police Injury Benefit Regulations or the The Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme”.  Because we can’t get actors to dress up in costumes and fight this out on stage, we’ll decide this by pitting the number of Pension Ombudsman decisions that have been handed down for each scheme.

The twist in this exercise of silliness is that the big guys lose.  The rules are the smaller the number of complaints judged by the pension ombudsman the better the scheme is administered.

And onto the weigh-in.  In the left corner we have the Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme.  In the right corner, the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

The Firefighters’
Compensation Scheme
(England) Order 2006
The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006
Part 8.—(4)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 a qualifying injury  vs 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:
PART 9
1.—(1) Where a person is in receipt of an injury pension, the fire and rescue authority shall, at such intervals as they think fit, consider whether the degree of his disablement has substantially altered; if they find that it has, the pension shall be reassessed accordingly.
 vs 37.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, where an injury pension is payable under these Regulations, the police authority shall, at such intervals as may be suitable, consider whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered; and if after such consideration the police authority find that the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has substantially altered, the pension shall be revised accordingly.

Which is better? There’s only one way to find out: FIGHT!

PO police v fire

The Regulations are near-enough identical but the maladministration  reported within the Firefighters compensation scheme seems dramatically smaller.  These numbers of 10 (firefighters) and 41 (police) relate to those Pension Ombudsman decisions concerned only with injury benefit matters.

As of 2015 the Home Office reports 44,000 full time equivalent firefighters compared to 127,000 police officers.

There are 2.27 complaints to the Pension Ombudsman for every ten thousand firefighters.  If there were 127,000 firefighters then the expected number of complaints would only be 28.86 – still lower than the 41 police decisions.

For every ten thousand police officers, there are 3.23 complaints to the Pension Ombudsman.

Yes, this is all unscientific, rather flawed and just a bit lighthearted.   There are other variables at play here that may account for some of the differences.  Is there proportionally more or fewer firefighters than police officers with injury awards?  Maybe the Fire Brigades Union is proactive and militant enough to be able to stop maladministration before the rot takes hold.  We haven’t got the answers.

But still taking all the variables into account, the majority of Pension Ombudsman police decisions are solely concerned with unlawful reviews.  There are no complaints to the Pension Ombudsman from firefighters with disputes over the firefighter being unlawfully reviewed and reduced even though the ‘power to  review’ regulation between the two schemes is, for all purposes, identical.

Something is amiss.  Same power;  different public bodies;  different application.  The fire service avoids maladministration but the police pension authorities are attracted to it like moths to a flame.

Attitude is an important factor here.  The Fire Service obviously does not have the overarching core power as law enforcers, their objective is to save lives not to uphold the peace.  So does the absence of such make the whole fire service more egalitarian?  Is the institution geared to being more of an equaliser and leveller between those who make the decisions within the fire service and those who are decided upon?

Serious  mismanagement and possible corruption can occur anywhere and it’s unfeasible to think the Fire Service is immune to it.  But the point being such behaviour can be magnified exponentially if the organisation has the capacity to justify restriction of individual liberties in order to protect the general welfare.

Corruption within the higher echelons in the police service depends on power and testosterone. Power and testosterone breeds arrogance.  Although senior civilians in the police can make pro-social decisions to indirectly benefit the public good they can also abuse their power by invoking anti-social decisions.  With no warranted power they can’t project their ‘might’ onto the general public, so they direct it inwardly towards the ‘plebs’.

A phenomenon clearly evidenced when the actions of HR managers, legal services, selected medical practitioners and force medical officers are criticality examined and labeled as maladministration by the Pension Ombudsman.

Pause to imagine a Fire service Senior Divisional Officer writing, on matters he is ignorant,  to a retired injured on-duty firefighter threatening to remove the award on made-up non-compliance of failing to fill-in an invented questionnaire.

Totally inconceivable.

This is exactly what happens in the Police.  Chief Superintendent Chris Markey from Merseyside Police believes his rank gives him the authority to threaten a member of the public to do something that person is not obliged by any legislation to actually do.  This is the underlying reason why the Pension Ombudsman hears more complaints about the police.  It is fair to say that power has not corrupted senior officers of the Fire Service to the same magnitude as the police.

Police pension authorities and their delegates should be responsible for what they do, just like everyone else.

Injury awards and how the police treat medically retired officers are examples of how those who run the police service are flouting the rules that are there to protect us all. This should send a strong message to the senior management that they cannot make the rules up as they go along. They are not above the law.

 

A Suitable Interval is not Random

A Suitable Interval is not Random

“Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.”
John von Neumann

It seems Avon & Somerset Human Remains Department just can not help themselves.  To select further IODs for review they are going to use a random number generator.

This is a quote from local NARPO’s report on the IOD Liaison Group Meeting 17th December 2015

8 more claimants have been chosen using an EXCEL random picker programme and letters should be sent out in January 2016 asking for them to engage in the process. If you receive such a letter and are a member of NARPO Bristol Branch, we would like to know, please contact me through […] the branch secretary. If you require it we can offer advice or assistance with the process.

Let’s ignore the unsavoury and nonfactual word ‘claimants‘ used to describe those with an injury on duty award  for a minute and focus on the words ‘random picker’.

No. It’s  not ‘Lancelot’, the mechanical soupedup tombola that the National Lottery uses, but a computer program.  A computer program cobbled together in a Heath Robinson manner using Microsoft Excel.

Does anyone spot the major flaw here?

Is their mistake that the numbers generated by Excel are not truly random, but pseudo-random?  This is the output of program code that churns out numbers that appear to be random. Excel RAND’s output is only  a simulation of a truly random process. Chance can not be programmed.  That is why lottery providers use gravity pick or air mix mechanical machines. These 2 machine types have  things in common.  They are designed and proven using statistical analysis to produce random combinations of numbers.

Nope.  Although correct, the above isn’t their ‘pig in the poke‘.  They fail to grasp the  mistake magnitude of their cunning ‘brainwave’.

The elephant in the room is that a suitable interval is not and can never be random.  The Scoffield report dictates:

There should be a move away from automatic review for all cases at any fixed interval set in policy

A truly random selection would mean it is possible for a single former officer to reviewed consecutively.    As Murphy’s Law wisely says, what-ever can happen will happen if there is enough trials.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps this supposed ‘random selection’ performed  by A&S means that they have determined that everyone should be automatically reviewed and they are just randomising the order.

That doesn’t fit in with the interpretation of the Regulations either.  An eminent Queen’s Counsel has determined an automatic review for all cases is not appropriate and reviewing everyone ‘randomly’ is just that – an automatic review based on ‘policy’.

A selection of any IOD for any review has to be made based on the individual.  Some should never be reviewed.  Time itself is not the determiner of a suitable interval – the circumstances of the individual  and the detail recorded on the last final decision determines whether any interval is suitable.

But A&S has to wrongly rely on Excel and their fallacy of random selection because they have lost occupational health records and they can not read the handwriting of the doctor notes made in the records they do have.  So they are unable to determine a true suitable interval. That is their problem – their faults should not and can not be passed on to a former officer.

IODPA will look forward to reading the future judicial review transcript where it is mentioned that the plaintiff was selected by a computer program and not on the medical merits on whether it was suitable to review.

Any letter sent by A&S to any individual has to be answered with a curt:

“Why me? Why Now?”.

If the answer from them is because ‘our Excel workbook’ says you’ve won the review lottery, then you can laugh your way to legal representation.

On a side note – IODPA wonders about the Data Protection Act and the use of names in a tool designed for pseudo-random selection.  Perhaps Subject Access Requests should be made to determine if a person’s name exists on their list.

This DPA principle seems to suggest it is not right to use personal data in a list to unlawfully select someone for the wrong reason:

Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol (Wood)

A Christmas Carol (Wood)

Once upon a time – of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve – old Carol Wood sat busy in her counting house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather. The door was open that she might keep her eye upon her clerk, Jones, who in a dismal little cell was randomly making up degrees of disablement figures percentages and then, as soon as she had an arbitrary number in her head, erasing the actual number the medical practitioner had already decided upon and replacing it with her own. Wood had a large fire of smouldering personnel files, medical records of retired officers and ignored Freedom of Information requests. The clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like a single coal.

“A merry Christmas, Ms Wood! God save you!” cried a cheerful, dim but rather posh voice. It belonged to mad Sussie who owned the bakery shop next door. “Bah!” said Wood. “Humbug!”

Mad Sussie had so heated herself with spouting hot air in her latest press conference  that she was all in a glow.

“Out upon Merry Christmas!” snarled Wood. “What’s Christmas time but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer; a time for trying to unlawfully reduce every IOD just to find every item in ’em presented dead against you.”

“I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time,” returned the old and decrepit mad Sussie. “The only time I know of when men and women  like us think of people below them as no benefit to the citizens of our good borough. If they really were fellow-passengers to reduce their injury pensions and force them to the grave or illness, and not another race of creatures to be treated with dignity and abiding by past promises.”

“I say of Christmas, God bless it!” cried the cheerful baker. “For it brings the PCC election closer.”

The clerk involuntarily applauded.

“Let me hear another sound from you,” Wood barked at Jones, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.”

The old crazy hag departed. As she did so, she let two other gentlemen in. Said one of the gentlemen: “AvonShire Human Remains Department, I believe. I am looking for Mr Hazel, your Director”. “Mr Hazel has been gone for years.” snorted Wood. “It is now a Mr Kern but he is out – busy driving his tax-avoidance, courtesy Audi A6 with complimentary blues and twos, on his way to world domination. I’m Ms Wood.   HR Directors come and go – Mr Hazel, Mrs Zeeman, now Kern – but I’ve had my mucky fingerprints on all HR issues here for the past three decades. I am ‘in it’ up to my neck.” replied Wood.

The gentleman took up a pen: “You’ll do fine then.  At this festive time of the year, Ms Wood, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some provision for the serving police officers who are on long term sick leave and who had been injured on duty.  Many are on half or no pay and they are permanently disabled from performing the duties of a police officer.  Medical retirement is the only right thing for them.”

“Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?” asked Wood. “Plenty of mental health hospitals,” said the gentleman, “in which some of these benighted creatures may yet rest.” He went on: “A few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy a means to provide welfare and support  for these poor wretches as the Federation seems to ignore the plight of their members. What shall I put you down for?” “Nothing!” Wood replied. “I don’t myself make merry at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make ill idle people merry. I am also medically retiring no-one.  I will protract their hell as long as I can until they resign themselves or better still expire themselves!  No one gets an Injury on Duty award from me any more.  Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

At length, the hour of shutting up the counting house arrived. Wood walked out with a growl and went home. She lived in chambers which had once belonged to her long departed former boss Mr Hazel. Wood, having her key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker not a knocker, but Hazel’s face. It looked at Wood as Hazel used to look: with a ghostly smile turned up upon its ghostly mouth. Though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That made it horrible. As Wood looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

“Humbug!” said Wood. She closed the door and locked herself in; double-locked himself in.

The door flew open with a booming sound

Her colour changed when a wraith passed into the room before her eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame of the candle leaped up, as though it cried: “I know him! Hazel’s Ghost!” and fell again.

A chain was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail. It was made of old, nasty HR department decisions of the past 30 years that moulded the poisonous culture of AvonShire; readily retiring injured police officers on a whim because it suited the constabulary to recruit healthy  younger and cheaper officers;  cover-ups of institutional abuse, bullying and dodgy dealings; failure to redeploy injured officers by deliberately failing to make reasonable adjustments; allowing cronies and zealots to climb promotion ladders and standing back whilst these socio-paths drive their subordinates to illness.  All in all the chains were the lengths of toxicity of a thoroughly rotten organisation. Why else had Wood and Hazel, in all their days together, had administered over 480 injury awards.  Though she looked the phantom through and through, though she felt the chill of its death-cold eyes, she was still incredulous and fought against her senses.

“You don’t believe in me,” observed the Ghost.

“I don’t,” said Wood. “I never did.”

At this, the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with a dismal and appalling noise.

“Mercy!” said Wood. “Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?” “You will be haunted,” said the Ghost, “by Three Spirits.”

“You are fettered,” said Wood, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.

Then the spectre floated through the window and out upon the bleak, dark night. Wood, desperate in her curiosity, looked out. The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither, and moaning as they went. Many had been personally known to Wood in their lives. They were the former officers whose careers Wood and Hazel had help ruin. Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, she could not tell.

Wood was returned to her bed when the hour bell sounded with a deep, dull, melancholy One. The curtains of her bed were drawn aside and Wood found herself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them. It was a strange figure. What was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness.

“Are you the Spirit whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Wood. “I am!” The voice was smooth with a sinister yet fruity flavour. “What are you?” Wood demanded. “I am the Ghost of HR Directors Past,” replied the pale faced apparition.

It put out its hand. The grasp, though clammy as a snail, was not to be resisted. They passed through the wall and across space and time until they stood amidst an office with a doctor talking to a sad, downhearted and clearly unstable and injured police officer .

“Good Heaven!” said Wood. She recognised the doctor as the former police surgeon.  A doctor who held the post for 35 years and died years before. “You are no use to this organisation any more” the doctor said to the tearful and shell-shocked now former police officer.  “From this day your services are no longer required.  Return to your station and get your belongings.  I’ll certify you as a band 4  – you are clearly never going to work again.  You’ll never get better, we won’t review you so just go and live your life”.

“Spirit!” cried Wood. “The doctor just gave a band 4!  But there isn’t a wheelchair in sight!  Why do you delight to torture me? Show me no more!”

“I told you these were the shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me!” “Leave me!” Wood exclaimed. “Haunt me no longer!”

The hour struck again and with it came another phantom. “I am the ghost of HR Directors Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”

From head to toe, the phantom was clothed in rags. “Touch my robe!” commanded the spirit and whisked Wood  on to the dwelling of a retired officer with an Injury on Duty award.  Wood recognised the person as someone she and Kern had recently forced in front of Dr Johnson to be reviewed.

The former police officer was not living the high life.  They were broken.  Not only had their career been snatched from them 15 years ago but the past 2 years of being continuously under review;  of being interrogated for 90 minutes by Dr Johnson; of having a report only for Dr Johnson to revisit issues, revoke the first draft and then write utterly incorrect drivel about his medical condition.  Not having any conclusion was having its toll on an already damage mental health.  Thoughts of ending the pain was the coursing through the synaptic paths of his brain.   He reached for the bottle of cheap whiskey and drained it with no thought of how the alcohol will react to the powerful anti-psychotic medication he was taking.

The clock struck another hour. Wood asked: “I am in the presence of the Ghost of HR Directors Yet To Come?” The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with its hand. “Ghost of the Future!” Wood cried. “I fear you more than any Spectre I have seen. Will you not speak to me?” The still silent Spirit conveyed her to the High Court. “I see it,” said Wood. “Let me behold what shall be in days to come.” Wood hastened to the window of his court, and looked in. A Judicial Review was under way.  Wood saw herself standing  looking dishevelled whilst giving evidence before the Judge.  The ignominy of her situation was radiating from the Wood in the witness box .

Wood’s office back at HQ. The Spirit stood among the desks and chairs, and pointed to one. Wood crept towards it, trembling as she went. Following the finger, she read upon the desk a name she did not recognise but the job title was hers.  Someone else now has my job!” she thought.  Next to the name plate was the result of the Judicial Review – found in favour of the pensioner – and a critical opinion of the Judge in the failures of AvonShire HR senior officers.  Wood recognised her own handwriting on a memo lying in the desk’s out-tray.  It was a notice of retirement letter. She mouthed, “I’ve been forced to retire”.

“No, Spirit! Oh no, no! Why show me this, if I am past all hope!”

Holding up her hands in one last prayer to have her fate reversed, the phantom vanished.

Wood scrambled out of bed, resolved to change her future. Running to the window, he put out her head and called downward to a boy. “Hello, my fine fellow,” she cried. “Do you know the Poulterer’s at the corner? Go and buy the prize Turkey that hangs up there.” The boy was off like a shot.

“I’ll send it to the all the IODs whose lives I have rolled over these past 2 years,” whispered Wood, rubbing her hands with merriment.

She got dressed in her best, went downstairs to open the street door, ready for the coming of the Turkey.

The boy returned, empty-handed. “Where’s the Turkey?” demanded Wood. The boy shrugged: “They say they’ll not sell anything to a heartless person such as you. They say the only Turkey you will see this Christmas is yourself.”

“Bah,” groaned old Wood. “Humbug!”

Lost in Space

Lost in Space
To boldly go where no sane HR director commander has gone before …

Acting Captain’s log, Stardate 2015.   I have assumed command at the request of … someone – perhaps even me. Our situation is deteriorating; many of the crew are unable to function and our life support systems are beginning to falter.”

Supplemental log. stardate 2015 Sector: Earth orbit. It looks like Earth but I am unsure. The crew are beginning to look at me with sideways glances. I fear I am losing their trust. My command is threatened. I must work out which planet we are near, or it may be too late to return through the wormhole.

On the bridge of the stalled starship Avonprise stood several of the bewildered senior officers and crew.

Second Lieutenant Jones adjusted a wedgie that was giving him gyp and said, to no-one in particular, “Is it just me, or is everyone on this ship monumentally f****d up about review missions?”

“What do you mean?” Bulpitt replied, a quizzical frown momentarily shadowing the studied bland innocence of his normal appearance.

“Well, I’m thinking that ever since Commander Zeeman was called back to Starfleet on that ‘misunderstanding’,  Commander Kern has put us all in these red jumpers. You know what happens when crew members wear red!” Jones said.

Dr Johnson arched an eyebrow at this. “What makes you say that, Jonesy?”

Before Jones could formulate a reply Galley Overseer Wood interjected into what would otherwise have been a long pause, “Well, we’re all replacing former crew members,” Wood pointed at Johnson and continued,“What happened to the one you replaced? Transferred out?”

“No,” said Johnson, “He was the death by vaporization one.”

“And mine got sucked out of the shuttle,” interjected Jones, who seemed to have momentarily regained focus. He continued, “And Nikolai  Garganov got eaten by a giant Octopus that was unable to keep its tentacles to itself. Maybe. Apparently. You have to admit there’s something going on there. Ever since that Borg Mountstevens tried to assimilate Kern, things have been weird around here. He said he escaped unharmed but I’m not too sure…”

Once started. Jones’ verbal diarrhoea was usually hard to stop, but he suddenly broke off as the communicator barked into life

“Travel time to the nearest uncontested completed review?” screamed the demanding voice of Kern.

Taking a deep sigh, Jones pressed the button and replied, “At maximum warp, in 2 years, 7 months, 3 days, 18 hours, we would reach a point where we can see infinity.” He quickly clicked the communicator off.

“Why does Commander Kern now think he is now a Starfleet captain?” questioned Wood, pouting.

“We have been captain-less for so long the power has driven him space-bat shit crazy,” opined Jones.

“Speaking of which,” Bulpitt said, motioning with his finger in the general direction of a spot behind Wood.

Jones and Johnson looked to where he pointed to see Kern materialise in a glowing circle of transporter light right in the middle of the bridge.

“Shields up! Rrrrred alert!” shouted Kern, as he shimmered into full materialisation. “I’m now controlling everything. You! Doc Johnson – every decision you ever made about anything doesn’t matter any more as I’m saying I can redo it. Final is no longer final and everything with an outcome is now not concluded.” He paused for dramatic effect as his words sank in, then continued, “And I am doing this just because I can,” he raved.

“But Commander Kern,” ventured Bulpitt nervously avoiding eye-contact with Kern whilst busily looking at his shoes, “Starfleet Prime Directives say that the Doctor is the only authority which is permitted to make the decisions on review missions.  All we can look at is the degree of disablement and that’s a medical question.  Even when he’s ballsed it all up …  ”,  Bulpitt shot an accusing glance at Johnson, “And he has.  Its got diddly-squat to do with any Commander.”

A hard, glazed look came into Kern’s eyes, and his face took on a flushed appearance. “I will continue, aboard this ship, to speak for the Borg. My orders are that you will continue, without further delay, to Sector 001, where my hive will force your unconditional surrender.” Looking imperiously about him, Kern continued, in a monotonous echoing tone, “We care not for your StarFleet directives. The Borg do what we want. I may be a lowly commander but I’ve been assimilated into the Borg collective and I now run this ship – and I will soon rule the whole universe, prime directives or not.”

“Oh well,” meekly ventured Wood, “looks like the whole galactic quadrant is up shit creek.”

Bulpitt turned to Wood and whispered in her ear, careful not be be overheard by Kern but thankful that the psychotic Borg drone was engaged in entering a long monologue about how he and his Borg buddies were doing exactly the opposite of what Starfleet directives and regulations demands of them.

“Death by falling rock. Death by toxic atmosphere. Death by pulse gun vaporization. It’s all good compared to being stuck on the same ship as this loon,” Bulpitt said.

“Death by shuttle door malfunction,” Wood whispered in reply.

“Death by ice shark,” Bulpitt replied.

“Death by what?” Wood said, blinking. “What the hell is an ice shark?”

“You got me,” Bulpitt said. “I had no idea there was such a thing.”

“Is it a shark made of ice?” Wood asked. “Or a shark that lives in ice?”

“It wasn’t specified at the time,” Bulpitt said.

“I’m thinking you should have called bullshit on the ice shark story,” Jones said, earwigging.

“Even if the details are sketchy, it fits your larger point,” Bulpitt said. “People here have review missions on the brain.”

“It’s because someone always meets one’s end on them,” Wood said.

At this point the utter confusion, petty bickering, position-protecting and empire building was thankfully brought to a sudden end as the starship Avonprise was blown to smithereens by a missile launched from deep hyperspace by the all-powerful Guardians of Law and Decency.

 

For the Love of Money

For the Love of Money

For the love of money
People will steal from their mother
For the love of money
People will rob their own brother
For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat
For that lean, mean, mean green
Almighty dollar, money
– The O’Jays

 

Every now and again a search on Google turns up dynamite.
45K

£45,701.50  …  read this figure again out loud.

It transpires that Dr Philip Johnson has been paid £45,701.50 by Avon & Somerset constabulary since the 1st of August 2014 for his role to conduct reviews of Injury on Duty awards.  And this is just for an ‘evaluation’ to see how unlawful their unlawful review program really is.  Heaven knows how much he’ll cost them when he does this for ‘real’.

We know that the minions of the A&S HR department have 3 lists:

1. Those they have ignored for years and want to reduce but have no legally valid idea how to squeeze their pips;

2. The 16 band fours it trampled on in 2014 (most of which still have had no result);

3. Those retired recently (more likely by Johnson) who are due (according to them) a review.

Johnson has barely ‘reviewed’ a double figure number of IODs  and, for this part-time work on top of his salaried job as force medical officer of Dorset, he has been paid a king’s ransom of almost £46,000 in just over 12 months.

That works out at around four and half thousand pounds per person reviewed.  If the farce wants to review all 490 IODs the constabulary will end up paying Johnson a handsome £2,450,000.

Don’t forget that this £2.5 million is not a one off.  Bulpitt (A&S force medical officer) and Johnson are under the delusion that every IOD shall be reviewed every 2 years if they can’t be dropped a band and every 5 years if they are dropped a band.

Do you like their logic here?  Review them more often if they can’t prove substantial change – more bites of the cherry you see; but review them less often if the ‘good’ doctors get their devious way and they are reduced.

It’s like playing snakes and ladders with the board full of grease-covered snakes, with only one ladder … and this ladder is decrepit, riddled with wood-worm and with a suspiciously sawed through rail.

Back to Johnson and his £46K.   As mentioned this is a recurring payment as the constabulary is deluded into thinking they have a positive power to review ‘as and when’ their coffers are running low.  As soon as they are brassic, up steps Johnson, ready to invoice the constabulary more money per IOD than he can ever attempt to unlawfully reduce them by.

Of course, this money per IOD does not include the expense of a Police Medical Appeals Board, the Judicial Review and the Regulation 32 reconsiderations that follows.

Johnson has already cocked up massively.  He has recklessly  and unlawfully given some IODs new certificates with changes to their percentage even though he has written on the same certificate and accompanying report that there is no change (let alone no substantial change) to the IOD’s medical condition or capacity to earn.

IODPA wonders whether Johnson will now invoice A&S for all the time he takes to put together his defence when he is dragged in front of appeal boards.

 

 

 

 

 

Same old, same old …

Same old, same old …

Featured image

“Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.”
Margaret Thatcher

 Truth is the same old story. That’s the truth by the way, and not the spin of Avon & Somerset.  It is almost 12 months since the 12th and 13th of November 2014 when, of the first group of 16 band fours (all the youngest of those receiving an IOD award and after waiting 6 months already), a subset of 6 were forced to see the selected medical practitioner (SMP),  Dr Johnson, at the occupational health unit at  Portishead. At £500 per IOD, Dr Johnson invoiced at least £3000 ( expenses an extra of course) for 2 days of work.

None of these 6 unfortunates have received a final decision from Dr Philip Johnson.  Twelve months of incompetence, dishonesty and deceit.

Quite a few were told that this is a ‘2 stage process’ and ‘there may be no need to see the SMP’; whilst all the time the Janus-faced HR  managers of Avon & Somerset and the force medical officer had always craftily fully intended to push all 16 in front of Johnson for reasons given below in this post and ‘test’ their processes.  The 6 seen in the 2nd week of November 2014 were the forlorn – the guinea pigs of the 16 guinea pigs.

Avon & Somerset HR would be eager to tell anyone listening that the apathetic delay is no fault of theirs.  That they have been acting within the Regulations throughout, that their actions are beyond reproach and that it is the fault of the IODs and those that have advised them.  Blame the victim for being a victim – isn’t this the first rule of ‘101 Rules on How to be a Bully’?

But the truth is more prosaic.  There is no poetic narrative that allows A&S to spin this in a positive light.  They have royally cocked up. A correctly managed review under Regulation 37 should take no more than 3 months from start to finish.

Dr Johnson is still adamant that if the force wants him to review someone then he has determined that he has absolute rights to have full medical records since birth as he needs to ‘understand the reason for the retirement’.

It is strange then that the same force using Johnson has sent those IODs lucky enough not to see Johnson to other SMPs who are happy and content to accept partial medical records only since the date of last decision.  Why the inconsistency?  Easy.  It’s because Johnson has set his position in stone with a few individuals and if he accepts partial notes with others whilst refusing to make a decision on those he (and A&S) wants to perform a fresh assessment upon, he will not be able justify the juxtaposition.

We all know by now that when a review is held it is unlawful to conduct an entirely fresh assessment of degree of disablement. Note to A&S: That is not IODPA’s opinion, it is the pronouncement of the High Court. Please read the case of SIMPSON, where it was determined,

‘ I accept Mr Lock’s submission that the SMP and the PMAB cannot conduct a fresh review of the uninjured earning capacity and the actual earning capacity of the former officer and then, comparing the outcome of that assessment with the previously determined degree of disablement, conclude that there has been an alteration in the former officer’s degree of disablement.’

There is no justification for a SMP demanding access to full medical records since birth to ‘understand’ the reason why the IOD was given in the first place, as the degree of disablement, the disablement itself, and the reasoning and/or medical evidence which was used to arrive at those decisions are not open to question or challenge.

The singular question requested of a SMP at review is whether has been any alteration in degree of disablement. But Dr Johnson seems not to understand, or to care. He doesn’t like the Regulations, so he thinks he can ignore them.

The Regulations and caselaw demand stability and finality.

In other words there is no devil’s advocate position of asking ‘why not just give Johnson what he wants’.   Johnson is not required to ‘get in the mind’ and understand the logic of the previous SMP that either retired or last reviewed the IOD.

As the regulations say,

The decision of the selected medical practitioner on the question or questions referred to him under this regulation shall be expressed in the form of a report and shall, subject to regulations 31 and 32, be final.

And stated by Justice Burton in Turner v PMAB

It is important from the point of view of disputes such as pension entitlement that a decision once made should be final if at all possible, and that is what is provided by these Regulations

Continued by Lord Justice Laws in the Belinda Laws appeal

The premise is that the earlier decision as to the degree of disablement is taken as a given; and the duty – the only duty – is to decide whether, since then, there has been a change

The real truth of it is that A&S have lost or destroyed quantities of occupational health files and other personal records, dating back in some instances to when the individuals concerned were retired, many years ago. This force has 490 IODs but A&S seem to have lost the majority of files it has on these people.

Where they have files they whinge that they are unable to read the handwriting of the doctors who were involved in the grant of injury awards. Why would they need to? There is no lawful reason. The truth behind why Johnson wants full medical records is that he simply can’t accept that he has to conform to the law. He wants to second-guess final decisions which are not there to be questioned. Remember that Johnson was drafted in by his ‘mate’ Dr Bulpitt, the force medical officer. These 2 sat together and devised the current ‘procedures’ to review people and Dr Johnson is therefore their main agent.

Bulpitt no doubt would like to have all the medical records he mistakenly thinks he is entitled to and therefore to rebuild the stocks of the ones the force has either lost or destroyed.  What better way than to get the IOD, his or herself, to willingly provide all the medical records the force should have retained in the first place.  And whilst at it, they can use the newly gleaned information to have another pop at apportionment and causation.

This is why the other 2 SMPs used in 2014 kept to their remit in regard to disclosure and were quite content with only partial records.  They were ‘contracted’ in and had no involvement or desire to join in the schemes of Bulpitt to rebuild his library of medical records.  Each of these managed to finalise their own reports expeditiously, showing what a true laggard Johnson really is.

Why has a force such as Avon & Somerset been so lackadaisical with pertinent medical data of those it has retired?

Police Public bodies do not have a great track record on data protection and A&S is a particular offender that has allowed personal medical data of retired officers to ‘disappear’.

Arguably Avon & Somerset has lost medical records and personnel files as it didn’t want to be burnt with the potent stuff written within.

So Bulpitt wants another pop in getting all the medical history without the nasty (to him) truth that complicates his job of what truly happened when the person was originally retired.  (Shamefully, illegality with regard to injury awards isn’t a new thing in Portishead police HQ.  It seems they have been up to their devious tricks for quite a long time, and repeatedly the names of the same offenders HR people keep cropping up).

Why stop there? They no doubt thought. Why not have another go at the full decision itself !  Could this be the reason why no person who saw Johnson on the week in mid November 2014 has had a decision.  Has Bulpitt and Johnson realised that not only are they skating on thin ice but in fact they have slipped into the depths of pure illegality, both by breaching the Regulations but also the data protection act?  A 18 month time period does not strike of a public authority with the confidence to defend a decision.

So in mid October 2015 it is the same old story.  A&S thinks it can carry on regardless by continued procrastination, it shows no remorse, it hides behind a cloud of obfuscation and thinks no one is noticing that they have been ruining peoples lives for 18 months.

The baffling thing is that they somehow still believe if they send letters to IODs so far unaffected, that they will happily trot along with their plans without a second thought.

Even if A&S wakes up to what it has done, the damage to its reputation is already insurmountable. What IOD will now place themselves helplessly in the jaws of such a monster?

Tell your version of the truth to whomever will listen A&S, no one will believe you any more.

Buzzwords Bingo

Buzzwords Bingo

Bullshit Bingo

A game that can be played in large meetings. The players write down management-nonsense word like “Out-of-the-box-thinking”, “Synergy”, “Content streamlining” etc. in a 5 by 5 square bingo card.

If a word or phrase is used during the meeting you check the box. When you get a five box line (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) you shout “BULLSHIT!” and win.

-Company Bigshot Fancypants: “And that is why this merger is going to benefit shareholder value by creating value driven content.”

-Eager But Dim Employee: “BULLSHIT BINGO!”

-Company Bigshot Fancypants: “You’re fired!”

It wasn’t long ago that Avon & Somerset HR employees stated in a meeting that their ‘procedures’ weren’t aligned with the Regulations.

I think they meant to say that they knew they were breaking the law.

On learning of that remark, IODPA dared to think for a moment that the ignorant had become a bit more enlightened. We were mildly excited. We were prepared to ignore the fact that the remark was good enough for a Bullshit Bingo award, and concentrated on its meaning rather than its delivery. We knew there was a still a lot of work for HR and their string-pullers to do – we’re worldly-wise and know how HR types operate – but we thought we saw the first faint flicker of light on the horizon.

Oh, but how we underestimated the force’s capacity to continue to muck things up.

Our internal source (God/Allah bless him/her) has informed us that the force is about to send out final reports for some of those under review.  Remember these are the ones Dr Johnson has been ‘contemplating’ since May 2014.

When those reports finally end up on the doormat of the IODs the mistakes will bound to be numerous. In the spirit of Bullshit Bingo here is a list of errors only the truly ignorant can make – all of which are usually and inevitably wrapped up in phrases carefully intended to obscure rather than elucidate.

As Johnson’s reports arrive, let’s count how many times these errors are contained therein:

  • Fresh assessment.

Everyone’s most unfavoured cock up. This error occurs when the SMP oversteps the mark and starts from scratch to assess and quantify degree of disablement. There are many ways to make this fundamental error, but the most frequent ploy is where HR gives the SMP a list of jobs and wages and the SMP compares the speculative, future, income that might result if the pensioner, say, moved to Aberdeen and became a lecturer in quantum physics, with either what he or she earned as a police officer, or what the average wages were seven years ago for the entire population of the UK, as set out in the NAE index.

OI! YOU! SMP! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR JOB

IS ONLY TO CONSIDER SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE!

Not being able to read the notes of a doctor who retired someone 15 years ago is not a free pass to start again on someone. There is no excuse for this error, and, trust us, this will go to the High Court at some point.

Oh! hang on a minute. This was already decided – back in 2003, in the case of Crocker:

‘The task, in my judgment, in assessing earning capacity is to assess what the interested party is capable of doing and thus capable of earning. It is not a labour market assessment, or an assessment of whether somebody would actually pay him to do what he is capable of doing, whether or not in competition with other workers.’

The Judge’s binding opinion, which has never been challenged or amended, relates to the initial grant of an injury pension. At review, therefore, the SMP can not do what is prohibited when the pension was first granted. That would not only amount to a fresh assessment, from scratch, but a fresh assessment using an unlawful approach. Double whammy.

And as a footnote to this error, SMP, (and HR please take note) The National Average Earnings (NAE) Index stopped being a National Statistic in January 2010. The Office of National Statistics continued to publish this index until September 2010. Indices were published two months in arrears so the last index that was a National Statistic was that for October 2009 and the final index ever published was for July 2010.

The Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) measure was accredited as a National Statistic in January 2010 and, consequently, it replaced the National Average Earnings Index as the headline measure of earnings growth in the UK.

So, please do tell – where, exactly have you been getting these figures which you claim are from the NAE Index?

How much case law is there which states clearly that apportionment cannot be reapplied?.  Has any SMP actually bothered to read the most helpful body of case law which has accumulated?  Evidently not.

  • The straw that broke the camel’s back.

It doesn’t matter what causes the degeneration of a duty injury.  If the index injury has progressively got worse a SMP can’t mitigate the reason why it’s got worse by ascribing the whole or part of the degeneration to a specific non-duty cause in order to try to reduce the banding.

A spinal disc compression sustained in dealing with a riot whilst on duty 20 years ago, which has become more severely damaged because a young child was lifted 5 years ago?  This doesn’t mean you can reduce the band !!!

Degeneration of the index injury is just that – a worsening of the index injury.  Where does this illogical SMP train of thought stop?  Is age not allowed to be a reason for the degeneration?  Without the original injury, age & time would not have caused the disablement in the first place.

  • Disagreement with the diagnosis.

The last previous decision is a given. It is a final decision.  Simples.  What makes the SMP think he can say he disagrees with it? Apart from ignorance, a complete lack of professionalism and one eye on his pay-cheque, that is.

  • The SMP reporting there is no change to degree of disablement and then changing the % degree of disablement.

Yes, they do this. Unbelievably. They consider substantial change, find there is none and then provide a new figure of degree of disablement.  So you are a band 4 on 76-100% and there is no change?  So now Dr Johnson says you are 85% or 90%, or any other figure in the 76 to 100 percent range that takes his fancy. Plucked out of thin air with no stated reasoning to support it. Just because the last SMP gave a range instead of an exact figure does not mean you can now give an exact figure.  No change means just that – no change.

In fact, it seems obvious that the SMP has not realised the Regulations do NOT intend, or allow degree of disablement to be stated as a precise percentage. Perhaps HR and the SMP have also not bothered to read what eminent QC Scoffield wrote in his report to the Northern Ireland Policing Board recently?

‘However, there is nothing in the Regulations which specifically requires an SMP to give a percentage figure in any individual case. Their obligation under regulation 29(2) is to give a decision on “the degree of the person’s disablement”, which could just as easily mean a decision as to whether the disablement is slight, minor, major or very severe. Regulation 29 could have been drafted to indicate that the medical authority had to specify a precise percentage disablement; but it is not.

As I have also noted in Chapter 1, the calculation of a precise percentage figure is also an exercise with which the SMPs are not terribly comfortable, involving, as it does, something of an accountancy exercise. Indeed, the fact that the degree of a person’s disablement is a “medical question” under regulation 29 of the 2006 Regulations may also suggest that (what I have referred to as) the mathematical approach is not the correct way of determining degree of disablement under the Regulations; but that, rather, it is a broad judgment to be made by a clinician about the effect of the injury or condition he has examined in contrast to a much more detailed calculation based on earnings data.’

  • Suggesting treatment.

Remember, if you are capable of remembering , SMP, this is really for you what should be point number one. Please feel free to print it out in large type and pin it on your wall next to your insubstantial certificates of qualification. It is worth more than any of them:

YOUR JOB IS ONLY TO CONSIDER SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE!

You have no jurisdiction to say a pensioner should see a consultant cardiologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical nuerophysiologist, urlogist, gynaecologist, or any other ologist to cure all their ills. Not only are you unlawfully altering a previous decision but you come across as a slimy snake oil salesman – ‘take this elixir and you’ll be cured’.  As if.

Pensioners, please email IODPA (admin@iodpa.org) if you have evidence of more errors or Bullshit Bingo-worthy scribblings from SMPs and forces.  If the SMP scores full marks on a single report then a chocolate teapot will be sent directly by special delivery.  This teapot will be pre-filled with hot tea for the doctor’s convenience.

And, as a special one time offer only, IODPA will also provide a thick book compiled from case-law, Pension Ombudsman determinations and the full unread text of the Regulations so the SMP can insert it into the seat of his trousers so that the spanking at PMAB for being such a muppet will not sting quite so much.

In all seriousness though, HR types, please read the reports your SMP has signed off.  If any of them contain a trace of the bullshit terms and errors we have briefly outlined above then you can prepare yourselves for a few years of complaint, challenge, appeals and litigation. And that is from around a dozen reviews only.

Legal Services

Legal Services

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”




Today, let’s discuss the legal services department of Avon & Somerset Constabulary. It can only be guessed at why a Legal Services team now handles all enquiries about injury pensions, which include the police pension authority’s abuse of its power of discretion to review them, questions over interference in the SMP’s independent decision-making role, and many other matters of contention. But let us try to make sense of it.

A&S’s Daniel Johnson (Solicitor Advocate) and Shahzad Hamid who is a ‘caseworker’ have been busy sending what I can only call ‘one direction’ correspondence to those former officers caught up with this travesty. Its one direction because these two tell people they are involved, and say they are looking into matters but then clam up when asked when a response will be given. They then stop replying and retreat into silence. To reply would mean either lying, or telling the truth, and these legal eagles are too crafty to commit to either, for lying would inevitably bite the liar, and telling the truth would mean the force having to admit it is in the wrong.

Back in October 2014 several of the 16 being reviewed received this ominous email – yes email!, HR obviously had no uneasy feeling of doubt with disclosing personal email addresses to a 3rd party – from the two protagonists above:

From: #LegalAdvice

This matter has been passed to the Legal Services Directorate who are reviewing your correspondence.

We will respond to you once we have considered and reviewed the matter.

Regards

Legal Services

True to form and despite numerous requests for updates and questions on why legal services are involved there has been no response. Either they have given up ‘considering the matter’ or have considered it and have not been happy with the conclusion they’ve drawn.

It is as if A&S thought that by telling us that the heavies of legal services are now involved that we would be browbeaten into acquiescence. Why would a force feel it needed to try to bully former offices by telling them that enquiries are in the hands of their solicitors?

The 2012 stated case of Crudace can show A&S where bullying leads..

The judge gave a damning indictment of the bully-boy tactics of the force concerned:

It is, however right to bear in mind that the letter was sent by the solicitor of a public body to a disabled unrepresented former officer.




That force was Northumbria, and its solicitor threatened 45 elderly disabled former officers who’d had the temerity to seek an appeal on what later was proved to be unlawful decisions by the force’s SMP. He told them their appeals were hopeless, and if they went ahead the force would apply for costs when they lost.

There has been nothing heard from Shahzad and Dan for several months now. That is, until the latest HR ‘liaison’ meeting. Of course the word ‘liaison’ means something different to A&S than it does to normal folk. Instead of being a meeting to facilitate communication and discussion it is just another black hole into which all questions and queries disappear. The liaison meetings serve one purpose only – they are intended to enable Wood, Bulpitt and Jones to inform local NARPO and Police Federation representatives why the force hasn’t done anything to sort out the mess it has made, and why the delay is all the fault of the IODs.

The latest meeting in June 2015 concluded that:


Avon and Somerset Force HR reported that they now have one instance whereby they consider there is a ‘failure to engage’ with the process by one IOD pensioner, this is being looked at by their legal department.

http://www.asnarpo.org/iod.pdf

There is nothing in the Regulations concerning ‘failure to engage’. This is no more than a convenient invention by a force which knows it is in the wrong and seeks to displace the blame. There is regulation 33, but this concerns the wilful and negligent failure to attend a medical examination.  Even if such an event were to occur the only power provided by regulation 33 is that a decision can be made on the available medical evidence.  It is not a free pass to conduct a fresh review and is in no way  a gateway to sanction the infliction of a penalty that automatically reduces the award.

The Home Office stated this month that ‘reduction of awards without proper examination was declared unlawful’.

Before an injury pension can be revised, substantial alteration has to be proved – no evidence of improvement is in no way substantial alteration. The argument from ignorance raises it’s ugly head again.

But what if the person involved is too ill to attend an assessment, and who has sent medical reports from their specialist to the selected medical practitioner explaining that is the case, and who has been pleading with the HR department not to review just now? Any humane, responsible, intelligent, Regulations-savvy HR person would realise that not only should this person not be reviewed as the interval of time since the last decision on degree of disablement is not a suitable interval, but the blanket approach of reviewing a group of band fours is unlawful, and that in the 15 years since their last decision their health has deteriorated.

Is that pensioner ‘failing to engage’? I think it is seen by A&S rather as a case of too much engagement. They would prefer all disabled former officers were compliant sheep.  The police pension authority via it’s SMP proxy has available evidence to say in such a circumstance a review is not appropriate. Yet they fail to accept that, and instead of ending the misery they are visiting on the pensioner they want to leave matters endlessly hanging, and imply it is all the pensioner’s fault.

Of course, this is A&S HR I’m talking about, so if its threats and abuse you want, they are the people for the job, but otherwise, forget it.

Deep in their den of Legal Services, Dan and Shahzad have undoubtedly been tasked to frame their next course of action to fit their preferred perverted version of the facts.  The decision to ‘come down hard’ has been made.  They now have to invent the justification. And that is the bottom line why Legal Services have been engaged.  Good luck with that, boys.

Avon & Somerset finds itself in the review paradox.

If the reason to invoke a review is unlawful, as exemplified by A&S failing to make a decision to review on a case by case basis, then any revision of the award is unlawful. The Regulations tell us clearly, that only when a police pension authority is considering whether to revise an injury pension shall it refer the question of degree of disablement to a duly qualified medical practitioner. Well, the fact is you can’t revise an injury pension unless they believe that that pensioners level of disablement has altered. In plain language, understood by all except those in A&S who would prefer the Regulations were written differently, this means that there has to be some good reason for believing there has been an alteration in degree of disablement before they can tell a pensioner he has to see the SMP,

The paradox is that it is unlawful to make a revision to an award when there was no reason to invoke the revision in the first instance.

The corollary to the paradox is that is it unlawful to declare a ‘failure to engage’ when the Regulations are absent of such a term, and you can not ‘fail to engage’ in an invocation of something that should not have been brought into being.

Perhaps Dan and Shahzad need to brush up on their legal skills.

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...