Legal Services

Update: Staffordshire Agreement

Update: Staffordshire Agreement

The Staffordshire branch of NARPO has, quite correctly, asked the Police Federation of England & Wales (PFEW) about the “agreement” that was sent out to those as a consequence of being paper reviewed almost a decade ago.  Remember this “agreement” was signed at the time by the individual, local NARPO, local PFEW and Staffordshire police.

Legal Advice March 2008 Agreement

There is a stand-out point that seems to be missed here …  The test whether the contract is a stand-alone, legally binding thing of absolute validity is arguably the wrong question to apply.  It matters not whether the contract, on it’s own, is a legal document of authority.  What matters is the context underpinning how the signed paper came into being and the legitimate expectation such a document provides as a consequence of the processes that occurred before it.

If the conclusion is flawed  (the “agreement“), then the process (a review conducted under Regulation 37) that led to that conclusion is compromised.

So the real significance lies in the gap between the very start of process (including the motivation behind why it commenced) to the finality of the Staffordshire 2008 mass review program, the conclusion of such being the “agreement“.

If the context of the “agreement” is flawed then it opens the fact that the paper review that underpins the “agreement” is unsound.

All those mass paper reviews conducted a decade ago by Staffordshire, in an attempt to limit their exposure to the illegality of the 46/2004 Home Office guidance, were finalised without the knowledge contained in the later judgements found in the Pollard, Turner and Laws judicial reviews.

A mechanism to fix such wrongs is a Regulation 32 reconsideration and the legal advice of the PFEW, however it is interpreted, is a gateway that brings to stark realism the judgement of Justice King in Haworth, R (on the application of) v Northumbria Police Authority [2012]  that a reconsideration …

should be construed as a free standing mechanism as part of the system of checks and balances in the regulations to ensure that the pension award, either by way of an initial award or on a review to the former police officer by either the SMP or PMAB, has been determined in accordance with the regulations and that the retired officer is being paid the sum to which he is entitled under the regulations.

…and that refusal of the police pension authority to allow such right to a mechanism to fix a wrong is:

potentially unlawful interference with a ECHR right

We could have saved the effort of the PFEW by telling those who asked that the “agreement” is not congruent with the “checks and balances” demanded by the Regulations.  Excuse the use of deliberate tautology, but the point is so important that it needs to be repeated with different words: the “agreement” is a dubious result caveated by Staffordshire Police’s 2008 mass review program that was itself, by its very nature, not congruent with “checks and balances” demanded by the Regulations.

Before a person  starts to think they should ever acquiesce to any review there needs to be answers.  Not only shall the review be justified to the individual, a suitable interval needs to have elapsed and individual discretion applied based on that person’s circumstances.  The disabled former officer also needs to fix the damage done by any previous unlawful paper review.

We will be pleased to field any questions you may have about the information contained in this post and the PDF above.  Either comment below, so others can benefit from the conversation, or email us for a private chat

The History between Wirz and Staffordshire Police

The History between Wirz and Staffordshire Police

It is as though instead of a dog wagging its tail the tail should wag the dog. And all Nature would stand aghast before such an improper spectacle.” – Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim

Another knife-attack was thwarted last week in Westminster. Overnight, on the same day, there were anti-terror raids in Kent and London. These were unconnected, but police say that they have foiled an ‘active terror plot.’ All this will blend into the background soon, as much as last month’s attack in Westminster already has. Not because we don’t remember anything, but because we never learn anything.

Behind the scenes there are police officers working tirelessly to protect the public.  But other, ill intentioned people within the police service itself are also working behind the scenes. They are a cabal of individuals who are determined to see those same officers in financial peril if they are ever injured on-duty;  even though legislation exists to protect those who protect us, if the worse happens to them.

Today we are going to talk about two particular individuals, both of whom have history in the recent scandal started by Staffordshire Police in their mass review program.  The frequency these two names appear throughout the saga of injury awards is clear proof that lessons have not been learnt.

Back in 2008 Staffordshire was developing a serious case of frost bite in it’s cold feet over the zealous application of the infamous Home Office guidance 46/2004 which called for severely disabled former police officers to have their income instantly dropped by thousands of pounds just because they had reached 65 years of age.

The small legal minds of Staffordshire Police were in a bind.  “What to do?”, they mulled.  “We really want to do this. Think of the money we we can save.  But something about this guidance doesn’t smell right”.  Like any proud member of NAMF at the time they reached out to the one person they thought could provide some legal incantation to help clear the way..

Introducing the first of our dastardly duo:  Nicholas Wirz, principle solicitor of Northumbria Police.

Michael Griffiths was Staffordshire’s force legal advisor at the time and, on behalf of the force’s director of resources, Graham Liddiard, Griffiths wrote to Mr Wirz on 27th September 2006 to ask whether Wirz had an answer to their concern that, by reviewing all with the intention of reducing everyone not on a band one, that they would breach discrimination law.

Specifically Griffiths asked:

Our particular concern at this time however relates to the potential effect, if any,  of the soon to be implemented Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006  upon the Home Office Circular.
My particular purpose in writing to you at this time is to ascertain whether or not you are in possession of any external legal advice regarding the matters referred to in your report

The report mentioned above is this NAMF guidance authored by Wirz and another grubby individual named Trevor Forbes.

Forbes is number two of our individuals of note.  He is a former Inspector who joined ranks with Wirz and ran with the NAMF wolves, Forbes still to this day works as a freelancer for some forces defending their position in Police Medical Appeals Boards.

This NAMF guidance seems quite detailed on the Home Office invention of ‘cogent reasons’ doesn’t it?  It is as if the Home Office authored it itself… or more likely the Home Office was using Wirz and Forbes as proxies.  Perhaps another conspiracy theory is HOC 46/2004 was Wirz’s idea all along and he was the one who sold it to the Home Office.

Whatever the truth, back in 2006 Wirz and Forbes had a prominent role in the roll-out of unlawful guidance.  Wirz happily used his position to slowly but surely influence decisions.  He advised on every matter on reviews of injury awards that came to his court. This meant that every decision made in relation to Police Injury Benefit Regulations was influenced by Wirz as early as 2006.

We can’t find a comparable analogy of a qualified solicitor surviving the fall-out or pursuing an agenda that was later found to be unlawful, and yet managing to remain in practice.  Whether or not the guidance was actually all his, or not, is irrelevant.  The report referred to by Staffordshire shows that Wirz swallowed it whole and sung it out from the pulpit like a demented proponent of televangelism.

It’s quite likely a police officer found to be championing unlawful processes with such enthusiasm would find themselves on a gross misconduct charge.

Anyway, back to the Staffordshire and Wirz love letters.

Wirz obviously didn’t convince Messrs Liddiard and Griffiths.  They bottled it and capitulated to an ‘agreement’ signed by themselves, local NARPO and the Federation.

On the 6th October 2006 Griffiths wrote back to Wirz saying:

Thank you for your very useful letter of the 2nd October 2006 in response to my earlier correspondence. […]

I am pleased to note that it is not just ourselves who are of the opinion that the Circular causes a degree of confusion which may require litigation to resolve. I shall forward a copy of your letter to Mr Liddiard for his consideration.

So what did Wirz say to Staffordshire police?

This is the Wirz letter to Staffordshire’s Mr Griffiths in full:

Apparently no external legal advice had been sought by Wirz or by NAMF (National Attendance Management Forum now re-branded as the National Wellbeing Engagement Forum).  Wirz is the self-proclaimed authority in such matters so his arrogance probably prevented further legal examination of his mutterings.

Wirz starts his letter with this:

Thank you for your letter of 27 September 2006. I can confirm that I sought no external legal advice with respect to the matters contained in  the joint note to members of the National Attendance Management Forum dated 24 July 2006

Wirz then says without a hint of irony that it is OK to review when Staffordshire wants to reduce awards, but encouraging former officers to seek a self-reviewed review shall not happen due to the drain on resources.  He says:

Personally I believe an ex officer keeps the CRA, which applied at the time of an ex officers retirement, otherwise vast numbers of officers who have attained the old CRA and who are in receipt of injury awards will seek a review. No resources have been made available for this and the Home Office has not flagged this up

The highlight of Wirz’s assertions comes before his own definition of how compulsory retirement age can be used against a disabled former police officer.  Apparently, he didn’t have a clue.  In any case he doesn’t say whether Staffordshire should or shouldn’t concern themselves with worrying over discrimination and breaches of equality law:

As regards new age discrimination legislation, this, too, needs to be the subject of further guidance

An ambiguous lawyer’s answer if ever there was one!  Guidance begat guidance seems to be his mantra.  The cynic would say that no doubt Wirz would write the secondary guidance on the guidance, wrongly reassuring forces that there is in fact no breach of equality law.

But then even back in 2006, Wirz knew that forces like Staffordshire were guinea pigs and that he was walking on the wrong side of the knife’s edge.  He knew the work he encouraged would light appeals.  Realisation that anything Staffordshire does, as encouraged by people like Forbes and Wirz, will in all likelihood be challenged.

Wirz evens comes clean with this fact:

This matter will, in all probability, be resolved by the High Court when a case dealt with pursuant to 46/2004 is appealed.

Now that remark would be acceptable from anyone who hand no hand in the administration of police injury pensions, but is a remarkably incautious remark from a man whose influence over how injury reviews would be held was considerable. He seems to care not a jot that the Home Office guidance might be of dubious legal integrity. His attitude is to advise that administrators go ahead and possibly break the law. It is a gambler’s advice, not the carefully considered balanced view expected of a legal professional.

Indeed, Wirz’s prediciton was spot on.  The issue was indeed resolved in the High Court – to the considerable inconvenience of the pensioners involved.  The cases of Crudace, Slater and Simpson (along with a huge amount of Pension Ombudsman decisions) called Wirz’s guidance the unlawful perversion that it was..

So back to 2017.

Who is still the legal advisor to NAMF/NWEF? Answer: Nicholas Wirz of course.  Who’s force has lost yet another judicial review about the unlawful interpretation of Regulation 37?  Answer: Nicholas Wirz’s Northumbria.

And what police force is plunging head-first into another mass review catastrophe? Staffordshire.  NAMF/NWEF is still at the heart of the problem.

Wirz is the tail that keeps wagging the dog.  The lessons of the past have not been learnt.

The tentacles that spread out between Staffordshire & Wirz in 2006 are still clutching for  hand-holds on brittle ground.  This time it’s different though, as the lessons of NAMF has only been forgotten by those who listen to NAMF.  The wealth of information available from dark times show that the benefit of doubt no longer exists. Staffordshire is looking down the dark wide barrel of a blunderbuss, which is primed, loaded and ready to fire. Wirz must know that Staffordshire is heading for large amounts of trouble with its mass review ambition. It will be a costly and futile mistake. But, Wirz has not a care. He gets paid no matter what.

IODPA exists to stop the vicious gamesmanship of people like Wirz, who in their efforts to always try to push their own interpretation of  the Regulations, to the very great harm and distress of disabled former officers and their families.

We take no pleasure seeing Staffordshire squirm in its defence of its mass review program.  It’s all so unnecessary.  But sorry, Staffs, you can not defend the indefensible and hope to get away with it.




Defending the Indefensible

Defending the Indefensible

During the festive period we didn’t waste valuable Quality-Street-eating or telly-gazing time.  Our investigative columnist was simultaneously scoffing chocolates and watching Dr Who whilst trawling our archives.

We’ve dusted off a letter from Julie Spence, the former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire.  As a Chief Constable she made the extraordinary claim was that the guidance in Home Office Circular 46/2004 was mandatory – that she had no choice but to reduce those over 65 years of age to the lowest award and zero percent disability because:

that it is not our job to pick and choose the regulations that we will apply and the ones we will ignore

In a letter written to the local NARPO magazine, Spence was attempting to justify her position, allegedly based on ‘legal advice’ she impudently claims, that the Home Office Guidance that said those over 65 years of age have no capacity to earn was compulsory and it is a cruel irony of life that people are complaining given she is just doing the good the work of restoring order from chaos.  Apparently.

Here’s the full letter.  Also you can find the text of the letter at the bottom of the post.

Nowadays Notts, Merseyside, Avon & Somerset and Northumbria are currently all following the rule of Spence.  Argue black is white and claim what they force upon disabled former and serving officers is mandatory.  When it clearly is no such thing.

You might care to bear in mind that Julie Spence has a law degree, which would lead one to presume she should have known full well the true status of Home Office guidance, and if she was in any doubt about the status of HO guidance she had a telephone on her desk which she could have used to call the HO for clarification.

Instead she decided to follow the same nonsense spouted by force solicitors such as Northumbria’s Nicholas “all SMP’s are judges” Wirz and Avon & Somerset’s Daniel “we can only imply threats to suspend awards” Johnson.

In March 2010 she announced her retirement following repeated challenges over her claim and a matter of days after the Home Office advised all forces to suspend reviews – a clear signal of admission that the guidance she insisted was ‘mandatory’ was in fact unlawful.

The unlawfulness of the guidance and the primacy of Regulations was reaffirmed in the Ayres Pension Ombudsman decision, and the judicial reviews of Crudace, Simpson and the consent order made in Slater.

So the next time some HR Director says they have ‘taken legal advice’, just remember, as far as the quality of the advice goes, they would’ve been better off talking to the coffee machine.

letter from our Chief Constable:  

Dear Mr MaCallum  Congratulations your new role as Chair- man of Cambridgeshire NARPO.

I am sorry that my first letter to you as Chairman is one in which I feel I  express my disappointment.

I read with some surprise David Blake’s  goodbye message contained in the April  NARPO newsletter, and the criticism of me  that I “remain intransigent”. I am concerned  that this gives your members totally the  wrong impression.

If by this it meant that I am bound by  statute, regulations or mandatory Home  Office guidance on the issue of the payments of injury awards, then I am.

If it means that I Will not tax-payers  money where I do not have the authority to  do then I agree.  

If it means that I Will listen , that I am  not prepared to explore avenues that others  have progressed, or that I do not appreciate  or understand all view points on this issue  then I reject the criticism.  

As Police Officers each one of your  members understands, or should under-  stand, that it is not our job to pick and  choose the regulations that we will apply  and the ones we will ignore.  

Sometimes we have to make tough choices  about the action we take. As a public  service, this is what is expected.

NARPO have asked me to look at options  that other forces have used, and I have done  that. I have sought legal advice to explore  the extent of duty and authority that exists.  Further I have sought and received advice  about Home Office Guidance that NARPO  had advised allows discretion, and been told  very clearly that it is mandatory.  

I do not call this call this intransigence.  I call this living with reality. It is a reality that should  have been gripped several years ago and the  fact that it was not is yet another symptom  Of the fact that Cambridgeshire for  many years a failing Force.  

It is One Of life’s cruel ironies that we turn  on individuals who try their best to restore  normal good performance. In fact NARPO  would be better directing their criticism to  those who were part of the system that  allowed that dreadful mess to be created in  the first place.  

I also need to let you know that despite what been written, every officer who  retires from Cambridgeshire Constabulary  may have a meeting with me. Many people  take up this opportunity, a small number  choose not to – that is their choice. If in the  future you want to check what the current  policy in the force is, please feel free to  phone my office and my staff will endeavour to provide all the help you need.  

We need to work together and have an  dialogue, even over the tough times, where  we have to agree to disagree. said, I  truly do forward to supporting  NARPO and would be grateful if you could  rectify any misunderstandings your  members may currently have about the  force. If it would help please print this  letter in any upcoming newsletter.  

Julie Spence OBE Bed LLB MA MBA  Chief Constable




“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Roald Dahl

Here’s the reality. This blog and the examples of institutional corruption we are highlighting  against medically-retired former police officers – and likely, those who are both vulnerable and mentally fragile – is part of the large-scale abuse of those with injury awards in this country. To an abuser who likes power and control, a disability is perfect.  The adversary to power and control is exposure.

Exposure can be denied.  So when is something off-limits and how can a public body hide disclosure under the Freedom Of Information Act?  The Freedom of Information Act in the UK does have some limits on disclosure. One method to comply with the act whilst meeting these limits is supplying material in a censored or “redacted” format.

Often you have to take the word of the public body that the redaction has been applied correctly. So when you have both the redacted and un-redacted versions of minutes from the same Avon & Somerset meetings – all of which are concerning their administration (or should that read maladministration) of injury awards – it’s evident that taking this word at face value is a mistake.

Now that these minutes are in the public domain you have the opportunity to decide whether their redaction was legitimate.

Before we get there, let us just discuss redaction.  In this method, a document is made available but with some text removed (often literally with a black marker pen). In the most straightforward cases, this may be just removing the names of junior officials or office staff, usually for privacy reasons.

It’s understandable when  redacted information constitutes personal data, and the public body would be in breach of the Data Protection Act if it were to put such information into the public domain.

But in other cases, large amounts of text are illicitly removed so that documents are almost unreadable and the information value is minimal – for no other reason than they’ll rather you not see it.

This redaction technique is abused so that certain nincompoops can deliberately leave no trace of their decision-making process within the public body they serve.

Strangely enough, such cretins seem to pop up in the administration of injury awards.

Can the disclosure of un-redacted meeting minutes really be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs?  What happens if the public affairs being minuted involves evidence of Malfeasance in a public office, or official misconduct?

Redaction does not give officials an excuse to cover-up the commissioning of their unlawful acts, done in an official capacity, which affects the legitimate performance of true official duties.

It is both highly disturbing and in the public interest to discover an official policy tasked to look at the medical files relating to every individual who was medically retired by a certain deceased police surgeon (employed by Avon & Somerset police between 1972 and 2006), to ascertain if such medical retirement was in their ‘view’ unlawful/illegal.  Especially as this doctor is at the epicentre of an ongoing historical sexual abuse inquiry named Operation Hay.

Potential victims – all who served as police officers – now are suffering the ignominy of a small number of devious employees within Avon & Somerset Police digging through (and without any consent to process) sensitive personal and medical data relating to their injury awards.  In other words, a shadow investigation exists – running parallel to a major criminal inquiry – with the sordid misapprehension that every decision made by this police surgeon (employed by this force for over 30 years) is now open to be revisited.

Isn’t it absolutely abhorrent that the force chooses to investigate only the things relating to their mania to reduce injury awards and seemingly they are in no hurry to question the blood tests of convicted drunk drivers, rape cases or assaults this police surgeon helped to convict?

The IPCC is currently looking into allegations that when a number of officers – likely the same people whose medical files retained by this force are now being ferreted by Dr David Bulpitt –  came forward on separate occasions throughout the 1990s to complain about Dr Bunting, those complaints were not properly investigated by the force.  In other words, whilst the IPCC’s investigates the Operation Hay cover-up the same force is conspiring against the victims whose complaints were brushed aside.

Here are a few choice sentences that the eager redaction gremlins working in A&S attempted to hide from Freedom Of Information disclosure of the minutes of an Avon & Somerset injury award liaison group meeting.  Redaction that we’ve recovered (hence the slightly different font) that tried to hide that Dr David Bulpitt, the current force medical advisor, has been tasked with the thorough inspection of the files of potential victims.

DBu [David Bulpitt] to review all individuals’ records identified through Op Hay to ascertain which Dr awarded their band or undertook a review of a band given.Avon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 action log


During the course of conversations it became clear that there were some concerns around why certain awards may have been made by the Dr in post at the time. It was agreed that DBu would review all of the names that are on the Op Hay list to see if they had been given an illegal/incorrect award as a result of being seen by the individual who is currently subject of an investigation.Avon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 Minutes

Of course, A&S do not want the public to know this as it contrary to the law for them, in any way imaginable, to try to revisit old statutory decisions – so they take the black marker to it and redact it all in an attempt to cover it up.

Fortunately for the public good, there is an un-redacted version in the public domain.  The left side shows what happens when you give a black permanent marker to crazed scribblings of an over-enthusiastic denier of public disclosure:

Redacted Un-redacted
minutes-23rd-october-2015-before minutes-23rd-october-2015-after
 Raw & Unformated Version

Click on the image and a new tab will show the disclosure in it’s entirety.  You can use the arrows in the bottom right to toggle to the page two for those with multiple pages.pdf-next-page
We now also get to see evidence that legal services has finally accepted that the GMC enforces that every individual seen by a SMP is a patient of that SMP.

DJ [Daniel Johnson] indicated that due to the information forward to Legal Services from DBu [Dr David Bulpitt] they now had a much clearer understanding of the difficulties being experienced as a result of the GMC indicating that each individual under the review is classified as being a patientAvon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 Minutes

That each and every person seen by a Selected Medical Practitioner (the prerequisite of such being GMC registration) is their patient is fact – after all it is a medical question – but they want to censure that they now accept it.  We’ve been trying to tell them this for years: the GMC guidance is unambiguous:

The first duty of a doctor registered with the GMC is to make the care of their patient their first concern. The term ‘patient’ in this guidance also refers to employees, clients, athletes and anyone else whose personal information you hold or have access to, whether or not you care for them in a traditional therapeutic relationship.
GMC Confidentiality: disclosing information for insurance, employment and similar purposes

So why is it redacted?  Could it be because it proves their position wrong perhaps.

They also decided to retract information about Operation Hay, as mentioned above, and they talk about the implied threat that legal services are going to put in the letter about suspending an injury award when consent to medical information is withdrawn.

This leads us to the ‘action log’ from the same meeting.  They redacted the recorded statement that their lawyer, Daniel Johnson, stated that such suspension is unlawful but, as an aside, they’ll still write a letter dripping with a purely heinous form of blackmail, that will be sent out to imply an unlawful thing will be actually be carried out.

Were these threatening letters actually sent out?  Perhaps they were, and the poor recipient capitulated to a threat with menaces.  Ironically, to acquiesce to such blackmail usually results in a ‘gun for hire’ SMP applying apportionment or some unlawful earnings assessment to reduce the injury award; see the predicament the former officer faces? – they are truly damned if they don’t and then damned anyway.

If anyone reading this has received such a letter, then they are advised to seek counsel with a specialist solicitor.

Looking behind the black permanent marker and you see this:

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 madeAction Log 23rd October 2015

So far they have obviously redacted the truths that we have been shouting for a while, but few in a position of power believed – the truth that they manipulate the law for their own ends.

Here is the action log for the 23/10/2015 meeting in its ingloriously malignant splendour:

Redacted Un-redacted
action-log-23rd-october-2015-before action-log-23rd-october-2015-after
 Raw & Unformated Version

Rather than try to hide it by redacting, the stuff found within shouldn’t have been thought, said nor written in the first place.

What else have these deviants been up to?

The 1st of March minutes has a section redacted that mentions reviewing people without passing the medical question to the SMP. On it’s own, this isn’t too aberrant.  However, if you factor in the draconian practice this force has conducted to drag severely ill people – those who haven’t had any correspondence from the force for a long time – in front of Dr Philip Johnson without exemption, you start to wonder why the sudden deviation from their usual behaviour.

Apparently a band four (therefore one of Dr Bulpitt’s  unfavoured selfish and preposterous few) and band one were reviewed on paper by Dr Bulpitt himself, without the demand to be medically examined.  Rather a change of tactic here given that Dr Philip Johnson earned £74,220 for 46 days work from Avon & Somerset in from December 1st 2015 to 11th October 2016.

Redacted Un-redacted
minutes-1st-march-2016-before minutes-1st-march-2016-after

If Bulpitt was doing the work of a SMP, why was Johnson still being paid?  And why are some retired officers forced to see Dr Johnson and interrogated for two hours when others get a free pass for a paper review?  Consistency is not their strong point.

And finally onto the 14th June 2016 minutes.  This is the excerpt that has been redacted from the document on the left:

RW raised the issues of information disclosed via FOI’s, as LG personal email  had been disclosed, although we are unsure through which avenue FOI or
Subject Access request.
Action: SA to check with relevant depts. and CD to check with JK  SA/CD

RW is Richard Wand.  He is a former constable and now a civilian employed by Avon & Somerset Federation JBB as a Regulations and Welfare Advisor

Redacted Un-redacted
14th-june-2016-notes-of-iod-liaison-group-mtg-before 14th-june-2016-notes-of-iod-liaison-group-mtg-after
Raw & Unformated version

Hardly a section that screams out to be redacted given LG is unidentified and RW is listed, un-redacted, as an attendee: Richard Wand RW Police Federation.  There does not seem to be any sane reason why redaction has been implemented but it is a clear example why you shouldn’t trust the whys and wherefores they use to justify redacting something.

They want to hide behind the black permanent marker.  Unfortunately on this occasion the marker was filled with disappearing ink.

Abuse of the Freedom of Information Act is bad enough when it happens.  When it is the Police performing the abuse the affect is magnified exponentially as their expected standard is higher given their position and that they have a near-monopoly on the use of coercive force.

It is also clear that when these people do things in the full knowledge that they are wrong they put aside the fact that the legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public is a significant determinant of police effectiveness.

For those reading this, shocked and with their mouths agape, staring at a screen and trying to parse everything that has happened, here’s a recap:

  • The lead solicitor for the Legal Services department of Avon & Somerset constabulary has confirmed that Regulation 33 PIBR 2006 cannot be used to punish the withdrawal of medical consent.  Despite this, he is fully prepared to deceive a member of the public into believing that their injury award can be punitively reduced by suggestion alone.  This policy had been redacted as a means of censorship to avoid the ensuing scandal. 
  • The force medical advisor of the same police force that employed a doctor (now deceased), whose actions are currently under investigation for dozens of sex attacks on young officers during medical examinations, has taken it upon himself to revisit final statutory decisions by looking whether all the ill-health retirements decided by the police pension authority, over a period of 30 years, were unlawful.   This policy had been redacted as a means of censorship to avoid the ensuing scandal.

You might think that sounds conspiratorial. It is.

This is more than just isolated bad-apples.  The utterings of those who attended these IOD liaison meeting meetings was not redacted by them – powers above them allowed this happen.  Another internal department would’ve been complicit in deciding  to remove whatever they considered sensational:  Corporate Information Management, Legal Services and no doubt, members of the senior executive team must have had a role to authorise this.  You can imagine how it was said, with a red-faced senior figure screaming “whatever you do, don’t let that get out!

What does it say about the culture of ethics existing in such an organisation that allows a cover-up to evolve into a conspiracy.

When a member of Parliament gives such a damning speech in the House of Commons – Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Con) on the Chief Constable Of Avon And Somerset Police Force – there is clearly a systemic ‘rotten barrel’ explanation that permeates through the senior management subculture.

From this point onwards do not give the police force you served with the benefit of the doubt.  When you are sent a threatening letter, think that they are probably lying and trying to coerce you to do something you have no lawful obligation to do.

If you are disclosed heavily redacted information then demand them to explain the exemption applied.  If they refuse to explain why each and every sentence has been blacked out then take the matter to the ICO.

The minutes should be specific to the matter being minuted.  You asked for disclosure from that meeting and therefore everything talked about, excluding the obvious personal information, should be in play for disclosure.

Hiding behind a veil of secrecy is an act deployed by Soviet Union’s KGB and East Germany’s Stasi.  It is unforgivable for such tactics to be seen in the UK.

As our skin crawls, it is worth forcing ourselves to look at the reality – we must confront not only the scale of these abused, disabled victims but also this country’s failure to help them.



The Enablers of Dr Cheng

The Enablers of Dr Cheng
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: – 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:
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.


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.


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.

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...