morale

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus : the son of Daedalus, tried to escape imprisonment by flying with artificial wings made of feathers glued together with wax. He flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Wednesday 13th December is a day that injured on Duty Pensioners in Staffordshire and across the country will remember for a long time to come.

On that date Dr Vivian, the SMP contracted to conduct Reg 37 reviews, has with immediate effect, RESIGNED from the process, stating that it has, “been a major burden”.

By a strange twist of synchronicity, Dr Vivian conducts his business through his company called Icarus Ltd. It seems that Dr Vivian has found things too hot for him. We have no wish to see him come to harm and his resignation may well be an honourable reaction to being in a situation which compromised his ethics.  But, will his departure cause those in charge in Staffordshire Police to give any thought to the adverse physical and psychological affect that the reviews are having on the disabled pensioners themselves?

Many of you will know, that since the summer, Staffordshire Police have been ruthlessly pressing ahead with reviews, with virtually every reviewed pensioner being reduced in banding or having been unlawfully threatened with loss of their pension for not providing their full medical notes or completing a questionnaire.

Dr Vivian has been at the heart of these reviews. Although pensioners are stating that he has been nothing but courteous and polite, he has been reducing people unlawfully and he has been making outrageous demands for medical records to which he, and the police pension authority, are not entitled. It is bad enough that Dr Vivian and his employer have been acting outside the law, but it is beyond all bounds of normal decency that the actions are accompanied with threats.

We believe that Dr Vivian is a decent physician who appears to have been misled by those paying his fees. His attendance at the laughingly mis-named National Welfare and Engagement Forum (NWEF), lair of the infamous and erroneous Nicholas Wirz and cronies, suggests that his independence is questionable. At those meetings he will have been subjected to abundant bad advice and copious misinformation concerning the duties and legal restraints which apply to the conduct of injury pension reviews.

A doctor should always look after his or patients without causing harm or unwarranted distress. Did Dr Vivian come to realise that he was being forced to sell his soul?

We understand that Dr Vivian has recently been under an enormous amount of stress over performing the role of the SMP during these reviews. This may have been caused by Staffordshire Police putting pressure on him to obtain the results that they want rather than leaving to him providing a fair independent expert assessment.

Dr Vivian has stated of SMP work that, ‘. . . it has a reputation of being highly contentious“. We at IODPA say in response, that If all reviews were conducted properly and fairly under the Regulations, then then there would be no need for stress and contention.

The SMP’s departure leaves Andrew Coley and Chief Constable Morgan in a predicament.

Do they now follow Avon and Somerset Constabulary who terminated reviews in June this year or do they continue to waste tax payers money on pursuing reviews?

IODPA continues to closely monitor events and sincerely hopes that Dr Vivian’s resignation will signal the beginning of the end of unlawful reviews and the abhorrent threats and intimidation which too many vulnerable disabled pensioners have been subjected to.

What we do

What we do

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
― Karl MarxEleven Theses on Feuerbach

When you’re disabled as a consequence of suffering an injury on duty , supportive and reliable information can change your life. That’s what we do. We empower people to understand their position and the choices available to them.

Our charitable purpose is to “To relieve the need of retired and serving police officers in hardship or distress who are disabled as a consequence of being injured on duty”. Our core aims say this is to be achieved by “campaigning to raise awareness and promote understanding of the correct application of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations so that those retired with injury awards receive fair and lawful treatment, respect, equality and inclusion” and by “exposing and challenging all aspects of illegality, unfair practices and improper conduct at all levels of injury award administration”.

In our posts we regularly explain the narrative of how vulnerable and disabled former officers are being victimised and damaged by the actions (and inactions) of the police pension authorities.   Are our blogs an example of good rhetoric: effective persuasion that influences people? or bad rhetoric: lacking in meaningful content?

Our readership and member numbers are always increasing but the truth of it is that there is no alternative voice.  If not us, then what?

The organisations that exist before IODPA, such as NARPO, only seemed to patch up the effects of the fundamental injustices that are built into the structure and processes of injury award administration.

Help, from this viewpoint – the position of the person with an injury award  – can sometimes be seen as actually accepting the injustice itself, while trying to mitigate the consequences of the injustice.

This is where IODPA differs and why our difference matters.  We accept our small size means we can’t be all things to all men but we say enough is enough.  Using the literacy sense rather than the biblical, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” If this statement is taken all by itself, it seems to imply Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost.  We can’t reach everyone.  We haven’t the resources to help everyone – there are so many problems that are affecting the need of those disabled due to a duty injury that we have to make hard decisions.  Some problems are so complex, so individual and unique, all we can do is refer the poor soul to an eminent solicitor.

The effort put into this charity is devoted to pressuring those in authority to bring about needed change.  Where we can, we help individuals.  At the least we provide knowledge, at the most we give up our time, an ear and listen.

The famous story of the boy and the starfish shows why using charity to fix individual problems can be very valuable.

Once upon a time, a man walking along a beach saw a boy picking up starfish and throwing them into the sea.

He asked the boy why he was throwing starfish into the sea.

The boy replied, “The tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll dry up and die.”

The man smiled patronisingly and said, “But, there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish on every mile. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The boy smiled, bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the sea.

“Well,” he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

Other organisations need not fear us.  We have no illusions for a power grab.  Soon we hope to have full Charity Commission regulatory status as a CIO (charitable incorporated organisation).

Our existence is changing the way people think.  It is becoming harder for forces like Northumbria to aggressively “test the law”, we are closing down the threats given out by HR personnel in their unlawful demands for personal and sensitive medical information.

We are helping people; we are making a difference.

A Question of What’s Right. Please Participate

A Question of What’s Right.  Please Participate

Then there was a man, smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power ― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the most ethical choice? Above is a demonstration of what we asking of you here.

Notwithstanding that the Regulations do not allow such a perversion of its application we need your help to decide whether, those who pull the levers of power in the land of injury awards (such as Wirz, Cheng, Broome etc), are true psychotics.

You may think the question that follows is an abomination.  That it is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.  Unfortunately this is a fallacy.  Northumbria police are enacting variations on their theory of all injury awards shall be undone.  Under the mask of they have to “test” the law.

So let us rephrase the question…

There is a pedestrian who is a retired injured police officer with SEVERE PTSD with absolutely no capacity to earn. Unable to cope with life he has retreated into his mind. In a shocking moment with his headphones on he is mowed down by A car after the driver failed to notice the traffic lights had changed. He survived but is damned to spend the rest of his days hospitalised in a persistent vegetative state.

Contractors, Ethics & the College of Policing

Contractors, Ethics & the College of Policing

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
C.S. Lewis

The administration of injury awards is a racket: given what disabled former police officers have had to suffer at the hands of corrupt doctors acting for police pension authorities, aided and abetted by the astounding ignorance of HR departments, it’s fair to say that’s a given. But unless you’ve had personal experience of the devious workings of those who are responsible for the administration of police injury pensions you probably have no idea just how much of a racket it has become.

If you ever have to deal with Inhuman Resources or any (oh-so-carefully) selected medical practitioner used by them then you know that you get sucked into a system which taints almost everyone it touches with corruption so flagrant it’s hard to believe such a thing could be possible in hyper-regulated modern Britain.

All the current platitudes coming from Parliamentary candidates in the upcoming election and media focus about police numbers is so ignorantly abstract when it really boils down to the realism of what happens to those injured on duty that face the system.

The system is run so that a very small band of favoured occupational health companies provide nearly all the SMP services used by police pension authorities. They have cornered the market, with the active connivance of the NWEF. They get their snouts in the trough, grab as much public money as they can, and leave the patsies in HR to take the flak. Outsourcing is the new game now, with forces handing over what should be their responsibilities to private limited companies whose morals and ethos are moulded entirely around the bottom line of the balance sheet.

Even the police medical appeal boards (PMABs) are outsourced to a limited company, Health Management Limited (HML).

Occupational health doctors who act as SMPs mirror HML and set up their limited companies in dubious, but no doubt tax-efficient, manner.

We see that commercial basis as being the driver which impels some SMPs to revel in creating unjustified appeals, by flagrantly disregarding the Regulations and case law, as a means to further their pay-packet in attendance costs. They know that a PMAB will either side with their crass decisions or make a new one. Either way, this lets the SMP off the hook. If there is a judicial review, it is the PMAB and the police pension authority who appear as respondents. The SMP is left free to continue their abuse of the law and of vulnerable and damaged individuals.

Some of these decidely dodgy SMPs work in tandem with a more malevolent master.  For instance, Dr Jonathan Broome.  He is Northumbria’s resident SMP, and seems to be going for the world-record of mentions in High Court decisions purely because he is unable, or unwilling, to say no to his colleague, the solicitor of Northumbria police, Nicholas Wirz.  Ever eager to push their own twisted and perverse take of the Regulations to judges, the dreadful duo are evidently so cold-hearted they never care about the morality.

But morality matters. Ethics is not just a necessary but inconsequential something which SMPs have sworn to when taking the Hippocratic oath. Some SMPs have abandoned the first ethical principle – to do no harm. For that alone their failures need to be challenged.

But would you believe that there is a “Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales” which actually applies to people like Broome or Dr William Cheng, even if they are only a fleeting and temporary SMP gun-for-hire?

Quite by accident, we’ve discovered that the College of Policing’s code of ethics actually stretches itself to cover any person engaged in any work for any police force.  Subcontractors are covered and it matters not if the contract agreement to provide the SMP service is verbal, written in stone, toilet paper, carefully scribed in blood, is on vellum or scribbled on the back of a fag packet.

Here it is:

1.3 Scope of the Code
1.3.3
This includes all those engaged on a permanent,
temporary, full-time, part-time, casual,
consultancy, contracted or voluntary basis.

The code of ethics demands honesty, courtesy, equality, the ability to follow the Police Regulations and confidentiality. Let’s look at the scope and detail, and wonder as we do so just how the likes of Broome, Cheng, Nightingale and others square this code with their behaviour.

Standards of professional behaviour
1. Honesty and integrity I will be honest and act with integrity at all times, and will not compromise or abuse my position.  4 6. Duties and responsibilities I will be diligent in the exercise of my duties and responsibilities.
2. Authority, respect and courtesy I will act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy. I will use my powers and authority lawfully and proportionately, and will respect the rights of all individuals. 7. Confidentiality I will treat information with respect, and access or disclose it only in the proper course of my duties.
 3. Equality and diversity I will act with fairness and impartiality. I will not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly. 8. Fitness for work I will ensure, when on duty or at work, that I am fit to carry out my responsibilities.
4. Use of force I will only use force as part of my role and responsibilities, and only to the extent that it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances. 9. Conduct I will behave in a manner, whether on or off duty, which does not bring discredit on the police service or undermine public confidence in policing.
5. Orders and instructions I will, as a police officer, give and carry out lawful orders only, and will abide by Police Regulations.I will give reasonable instructions only, and will follow all reasonable instructions. 10. Challenging and reporting improper behaviour I will report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below the standards of professional behaviour

Stop laughing at the back!

If ever the maladministration of injury awards is adapted into a corrupted game of bingo, you could call house immediately in the above top ten of naughtiness.

By all accounts the code of ethics has guidance on what to do when the code is breached.

Behaviour that does not uphold the policing principles or which falls short of the expected standards of professional behaviour set out in this Code of Ethics will be dealt with:
• according to the severity and impact of any actual, suspected or alleged breach • at the most appropriate level • in a timely and proportionate manner in order to maintain confidence in the process.

For the worst offenders the College of Policing states that the most serious allegations amounting to gross misconduct can result in suspension from duty or restriction of duty, and may involve a criminal investigation and criminal proceedings.

The trouble we have here is the age old problem of who is the custodian of the custodians? Who does an aggrieved person report a breach of the code of ethics to?  Of course, you guessed it – the relevant police force or policing organisation you are complaining about. This is such a sick joke, for all Chief Constables are the police pension authority in their own area, so, under the rules of natural justice should not be allowed to decide any matter in which they have a vested interest. Yet they do. And when they do, they of course always, without fail, decide there is no case to answer. Nobody has done anything wrong. Nobody is to blame. Nothing to see here, move along.

If the local professional standards department cuffs away the complaint or calls you vexatious for having the cheek to tell them their own colleagues are dabbling with corruption then it goes to Britain’s police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission or IPCC.

Home Affairs Committee publishes report on the IPCC – News from Parliament

the Commission is overloaded with appeal cases; serious cases involving police corruption or misconduct are left under-investigated, while the Commission devotes resources to less serious complaints; and public trust continues to be undermined by the IPCC’s dependence on former officers and the investigative resources of police forces.

The IPCC has been slated in the influential Parliamentary report that accuses the IPCC of being overloaded with cases, leaving cases un-investigated, of having no real power and of too often using former policemen as supposedly “independent” investigators.

For us though, it matters not whether the IPCC is fit for purpose.  Concerns about the effectiveness or willingness of the IPCC should never be an excuse to not formally report a breach of the College of Policing’s code of ethics.  Quite the opposite.  Any contravention of this code by any person, working in any facility, needs to be officially reported and recorded to the relevant PSD department.

The volume of complaints can not all be deflected away into a dusty draw of a battered filing cabinet stored in the broom cupboard.

IODPA says this to all injured on duty pensioners.

If a HR minion makes an unlawful threat to remove your injury award, report them under the code.

If a SMP has breached confidentiality of your sensitive medical data, report them to the ICO, GMC and make a formal complaint for contravening the code.

Quite soon the lid will blow off the racket of maladministration of injury awards.  The subsequent inquiry will look, through hindsight, at the College of Policing and all responsible Chief Constables and how they allowed such rampant disregard of their own ethical standards.

 

 

Newsflash: The Lost Contract of Staffordshire

Newsflash: The Lost Contract of Staffordshire

Our investigative columnist has spent minutes in the labyrinth of long-forgotten archives and has discovered a contract that seems to rather undermine Staffordshire’s new found eagerness to recommence reviews. Click here to download: Staffordshire-Police-Injury-Awards-Agreement

Staffordshire-Police-Injury-Awards-Agreement-amended

A promise made not to review.

It seems to be saying that, as at 01/01/2008, anyone under state retirement age (SRA) and anyone over state retirement shall  “retain their existing injury award band“.  The former until SRA and the latter for life.

In a benevolent wave of a wonky wand, apparently everyone is “entitled to at least a Band 1 injury award for life“.  Which is nice given that it would be unlawful not to provide the injury award for life.

Home Office Circular 46/2004 couldn’t and didn’t change the legislation that defines a review under Regulation 37(1) of the Police (Injury) Benefit Regulations.  The statute and the discretional duty of the Regulation is the same now as it was then.

So why, do we ask, are those same people who signed this contract back in 2008, now eligible to be reviewed in the present day?  And how can the arbitrary cut-off of August 2008 be defended as sound?  One rule for one, and another rule for others never sits well with equality law.

Those with a band two award and above, in their fifties and so below SRA when their contract was signed, now face the traumatic shattering of their expectation to never be reviewed .  Some of this exact same cohort are now under the self-imposed age of 72 years and concurrently above state retirement age.

They basically had a promise that they will never be reviewed. Ever.  The guff about cogent reason and the nonsense on steroids about a review just because someone reaches SRA, read today in 2017, is contrary to case law.

Mr Justice Supperstone in the Simpson judicial review in 2013 made it clear that:

there is no justification for adopting a different approach to regulation 37(1) in respect of a former officer who reaches the age of 65 than in the case of a review for former officers of a younger age.

It was clearly known in 2008 that the 46/2004 circular was unlawful otherwise this Staffordshire contract would not have come into effect.  Staffordshire allowed it to come into being for it’s own self-preservation and as a means to get former officers to agree to the unagreeable.  What better way to reduce someone unlawfully when there is no invented cogent reasons stopping them, than to get that someone to sign a contract to agree that it’s OK to do it without the necessary substantial change to the medical condition demanded by the Regulations.

Oh, how quickly their positive duty evaporates when it means defending a court claim.

On the other side, it was an well-intentioned (albeit misguided) attempt by local NARPO and Federation to protect those retired with injury awards as best they could, all before the illegality of an automatic reduction at SRA and unlawfully invented so-called cogent reasons was judged by the Pension Ombudsman and in the High Court as being a travesty, and that actually the protection wasn’t needed.

But what the agreement now does is raise two major issues and several corollaries.

The first is Estoppel and the basis of reasonable expectation: Staffordshire is now asserting something contrary to what it has implied by a previous action or statement by them.

The second is direct age discrimination that those with an injury award are to be treated differently depending on the abstract variable of whether they were retired before or after the 1st August 2008.  Those with ‘the pledge‘ have to be treated the same as those without ‘the pledge‘, given those without are by default younger.

In other words, Estoppel stops those signatories from ever being reviewed and direct discrimination prevents anyone retired post this agreement from being treated differently.

Oh, what a tangled web Staffordshire weave.

 

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas

Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic folklore figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is the antithesis of the true Saint Nicholas in regions including Northumbria Legal Services,  Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Northern Italy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus

The Christmas season is here!

This time last year we published an IOD themed parody of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.   Rather than starring Ebenezer, our protagonist was a certain senior HR manager of a not-so-imaginary constabulary, hell-bent on reducing the financial impact of those pesky and ‘preposterous injury awards‘™ (©Dr David Bulpitt).

Thankfully, in 2016, that particular HR manager soon was pushed into found  a different job and was no longer tasked with anything injury award related.

A Christmas Carol (Wood)

This year, the ‘fortunate and selfish few‘™ (©Dr David Bulpitt)  would like to apologise in advance to Clement Clarke Moore for taking liberties with his poem  A Visit from St. Nicholas.  We hope it has the same affect on NAMF and their leading acolyte Nicholas Wirz (Principal Solicitor Northumbria Police) as last year’s parody had with Mrs Wood.

Twas the night before Christmas and all though the land,
Those injured on duty were in need of a hand.
The SMPs had excuses all listed with care,
In hopes that injury awards would soon disappear.
“You are just vulnerable!” they all would complain,
We think no-one we see is ever really ill, we’re just on the money gravy-train!”.
When look who appeared! Could this be real?
The Regulations pulling up in a, um … automobile.


“But Nicholas Wirz, is our master when rejecting applications!
and it’s the people at NAMF that tell us to ignore true causation!”
The Regulations smiled at them and encouragingly said,
“It’s up to you to make sure the real law is spread.
You need to ignore Wirz and NAMF and look at the officer’s health.
They need your help, they should have nothing to fear but fear itself.”


“Come closer and listen. If you want to be best,
I’ll share this simple secret to your future success.
If you want to succeed, be real doctors and not complacent,
Remember to always do what’s best for your patients.
WOW the people you examine. Don’t let this ring hollow,
For when you put your patient first, the goodness will follow.”
“Success will be yours when you act like doctors and stop the hustle.
And I’m committed to helping you all be successful!”


“On Judicial Review! On Pension Ombudsman! The bad you do will be chased!
On Case-law! Ignore NAMF guidance! We must make haste!
You shall jettison Wirz! To do it right just abide by me!
Together we can create a lawful Regulation recovery!”


The Regulations winked and smiled; then put the car into gear,
But before driving away, one more statement did we hear.
“Those HR thieves and SMP crooks will soon be all in jail.
And the best SMPs who are true doctors will prevail.”
We heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“This month of Christmas is the start – from now, administer injury awards right!”

Wherever you are in the world, whatever injustice you are fighting, and whoever you’re with, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Thank you for reading our website this year.

Here’s to justice and an even more successful 2017!

Just Vulnerable or Permanently Disabled?

Just Vulnerable or Permanently Disabled?

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”
Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth

As certain forces continue on their hell-bent course of denying ill or injured officers their pension rights a pattern is developing.  Some Selected Medical Practitioners (SMPs) are labelling applicants with diagnosed PTSD or similar mental illness as ‘only’ having a ‘vulnerability’

Retirement on an ill health pension needs a SMP to decide that an illness or injury is likely to permanently disable the individual from working as a police officer. Some forces want to save the cash, so will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the need to pay award an ill health pension.

To back up their assertion that medical retirement is inappropriate where the illness or injury is PTSD, as they say that condition is not permanent, SMPs are citing two High Court decisions, which they claim justify their view.

Today, more often than not, when the critical question delegated to SMPs, ‘Is this serving officer permanently disabled?’ the decision given is a rubber-stamped answer like this:vulnerable-refused

So when an application for ill-health retirement (IHR) is refused why are SMPs using the ‘vulnerable’ label?

The short answer is that it’s because they are relying on two cases, one concerning Northumbria and the other concerning Derbyshire. These are both force areas well known for their aggressive, acrimonious and antagonistic attempts to deny retired and serving officers their pension rights.

The cases are R (Northumbria Police Authority) v Broome [2006] ICR 555
and
R (Sidwell) v Police Medical Appeal Board v The Chief Constable of the Derbyshire Constabulary [2015] EWHC 122 (Admin).

By focusing on these two high court decisions some SMPs are attempting to imply things often not relevant to the circumstances. They use the cases as a rejection crib-sheet. It is rather like someone who claims that eating a certain wonder food prevents cancer, but neglects to mention that you would need to eat six pounds of it each day, for ever, for it to have any effect. They thus tell only part of the truth.

These SMPs are selective in their presentation of supporting case law. They fail to point to the case which contradicts and negates their view.

They conveniently fail to mention a much more recent judicial review. That of
Sharp v West Yorkshire Police & Anor [2016] EWHC 469 (Admin) (07 March 2016).
We will come back to this case in detail later.

Let us first discuss the Northumbria judicial review. No doubt this force’s nefarious force solicitor, Nicholas Wirz – skulking and slithering behind the scenes – was the protagonist who advised his Chief Constable to challenge the decision of his own SMP, Dr Jonathan Broome.

What happened was that, in 2005, officers Alison Doyle and Madeline Clementson both claimed permanent disability, which Dr Broome agreed existed and so was certified by him. Northumbria disagreed and challenged his decision – their own doctor! – by way of judicial review.

While based in Bamburgh, PC Madeline Clementson, was injured through being dragged along the road by a suspect’s van. Dr Broome, who assessed her, said she suffered panic disorder and agoraphobia along with an intractable antipathy towards her police role.

He added that although her physical injuries had not made her permanently incapable of performing her duties, she was plagued by symptoms of low mood and anxiety which could be worsened by a return to police duties.

In PC Alison Doyle’s case, Broome said there were several factors stopping her from returning to work including spinal pain, vulnerability to anxiety and her enmity towards Northumbria Police.

The doctor found she had developed such an entrenched aversion to returning to police duties of any sort that the prospect of doing so might well trigger mental ill-health.

Dr Broome said Alison had “an emnity towards Northumbria Police as an organisation” and would even have difficulty performing civilian duties for the force and he said that Madeline had such an “entrenched aversion to going back to police duties of any sort” that the prospect of doing so could trigger mental ill-health.

Both PCs lost the judicial review because neither had a definitive medical diagnosis.  Although both officers were given medical retirement by Broome, he failed to medically diagnose them or refer them to someone who could, so Mr Justice Bennet upheld the challenge and overturned the permanent disability certificates issued to the ex-officers.

It is important to note that a court will inevitably never challenge a medical opinion, for it is not competent to do so. It is a medical matter, and a court lacks the medical qualifications necessary to make any comment or judgement on medical matters. A court can, and will, determine matters of fact and law.

Northumbria took two of it’s officers all the way to the High Court to win a battle over an issue which could have been easily been sorted out without recourse to such stressful and expensive means. The judicial review served only to delay resolution at a horrendous personal cost to Alison Doyle and Madeline Clementson.

The reason why Northumbria won the original judicial review was simply that neither Doyle nor Clementson had a definitive diagnosis which could be found categorised in the World Health Organisation International Classification of Diseases (ICD-version 10)

As Mr Justice Bennet put it;

Vulnerability”, “enmity”, and “intractable antipathy” do not appear in internationally authoritative guides available to doctors such as ICD-10 and DSM IV

In a twist to the sorry state of affairs, Alison Doyle took Northumbria to an Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2012:
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2012/0576_11_1712.html
In this EAT it is shown that four years later, in 2009, Doyle eventually got the IHR she asked for:

‘However, in a subsequent report dated 15 July 2009, Dr Broome recommended that Ms Doyle should be retired on medical grounds.  The Acting Chief Officer took a “holistic” view of her case, namely that her psychiatric condition, which in his view did not on its own amount to a permanent disability, should be taken into account.  Accordingly, on 21 August 2009 Ms Doyle was retired on medical grounds on the basis of her combined psychiatric and spinal problems.’

It seems that by 2009, Alison Doyle had secured a definitive diagnosis and so was, in the end, medically retired – the whole saga of the judicial review was pointless and unnecessary.  Instead of taking it’s officers to judicial review, Northumbria could have spent the money on getting both officers diagnosed by specialist clinicians, for far less cost and with far less stress caused to two damaged individuals.

The take home from this is that a line is drawn by this High Court decision. Once an officer has a recognised medical condition their case becomes distinguishable from the situation experienced by Madeline Clementson and Alison Doyle.

When an officer has a categorised diagnosis, rather than some wishy-washy opinon stated in vague terms by idiots like Broome,  matters have crossed the line into there being a recognised  infirmity.

When there is an ICD-10 diagnosis an “intractable antipathy” may well be noted, but only as a symptom of the infirmity, and not the infirmity itself.

And so on to the Sidwell judicial review.  This case involved the now deceased Dr Ralph Sampson who worked as a SMP for Derbyshire.

An unfortunate sequence of events led to DS Andrew Sidwell’s marriage failing and him then being made homeless after a colleague, who let him share his house, was investigated for corruption – an allegation that was later proved false and which, some believe, was based on a Professional Standards Department witch-hunt.  Homeless, he further suffered a forced transfer to another department, and this all led DS Sidwell into a spiral of understandable anger, resentment, embitterment and antipathy towards Derbyshire police.

Dr Michelle Shepherd, a consultant psychiatrist, diagnosed DS Sidwell as having situational anxiety disorder.  Dr Sampson refused medical retirement as he claimed that, ‘situational anxiety … is not permanently disabling’.

DS Sidwell saw another consultant psychiatrist to help an appeal he made against this decision to a Police Medical Appeal Board (PMAB). Consultant Maria Isaac assessed DS Sidwell and determined that his,

‘. . . anxiety is severe enough to approach phobic intensity. However I could find no evidence of significant underlying psychiatric illness or impairment’.

During the PMAB, one of the consultant psychiatrist panelists, Dr Karim Rajput, stated,

“I would classify him with an ICD-10 diagnosis of anxiety disorder, unspecified (F44.9)’

Despite this, the Board concluded (using a confusing double-negative to do so) that successful treatment of his condition was “not unlikely” and that therefore “he is not suffering a permanently disabling psychological condition’.

Consequently the appeal was dismissed and Sidwell was refused medical retirement.

Soon after, Derbyshire instigated Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures (UPP) against DS Sidwell citing inadequate attendance at work.  The Federation sent Sidwell to see yet another consultant psychiatrist. This time a Dr Qureshi diagnosed Sidwell’s condition as a permanently disabling chronic phobic anxiety disorder.

Derbyshire’s newly appointed SMP for this case was a Dr Geoffrey Davies who proclaimed that DS Sidwell’s condition would improve if he left the police service and as such has he has,

‘. . . a vulnerability to being in the police but does not have a permanent disablement.’

Another PMAB was held and another panelist, Dr Nehaul, disagreed with the diagnosis made by Dr Qureshi and the panel took Dr Nehaul’s view that the Mixed Affective Disorder diagnosis could not be right as there was no evidence of mania. Dr Nehaul devotes rather more words to demolishing Dr Qureshi’s diagnoses.

It is important to note that, unlike a court of law, a PMAB, can comment on and decide on medical matters, as all the Board members are themselves doctors.

The Board concluded,

‘Whilst having enormous sympathy for the position in which Mr Sidwell finds himself, the unanimous decision of the Board is that he does not have a permanent disabling medical condition which would prevent him from carrying out the ordinary duties of a Police Officer and therefore the appeal is rejected.’

This then went to judicial review where Mr Justice Mostyn rejected the claim that the PMAB’s decision was wrong and decided that,

‘The Board was entitled to prefer the opinion of Dr Nehaul to that of Dr Qureshi as to whether there existed a medical condition which caused the relevant inability.’

So the Sidwell case hinged on a spat between two consultant psychiatrist who failed to agree with each other and the judge decided there was not a point of law or fact in which the court could make a determination, given that there has to be considerable respect to the decision of an expert and informed tribunal.

In simple terms you could say that with the saga of Madeline Clementson and Alison Doyle (where there was no definitive diagnosis made), we can see their cases were the complete inverse to that of Sidwell v Derbyshire – wherein too many diagnoses existed!

Returning the question of this post.  How can a SMP on first seeing a serving injured officer use these cases to assert vulnerability?  If there is a diagnosed infirmity then the Rubicon for Doyle & Clementson is crossed.  If there is no PMAB and no quarrel between eminent consultants over what the condition actually is, then Sidwell is irrelevant.

This brings us to the latest judicial review, heard in 2016, of Sharp v West Yorkshire.

Mr Sharp suffered from anxiety on a number of occasions before he joined the police. He was in fact initially rejected by the police on medical grounds.  In 2011, whilst under UPP, he resigned and in 2013 he made an application for an ill health award. This was subsequently refused by the SMP, Dr Dagens.

He appealed and his PMAB submission was supported by a report from Professor Rix, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, who gave a diagnosis of recurrent depressive disorder (F33.4 ICD-10) and concluded,

The primary issue appears to be whether or not the Appellant is permanently disabled. Critical to this is the Appellant’s vulnerability. That vulnerability is his paranoid attitude. This is a permanent feature of his character or personality. It is when that attitude engages with management, as inevitably it would, that the Appellant would suffer a recurrence of his depressive disorder and be unable to perform all of the ordinary duties of a police officer. It therefore appears to me that the issue for the Board will be whether or not such vulnerability in itself amounts to a permanent disability for the purposes of the Regulations.

The PMAB rejected the appeal.  It had concluded,

‘Whilst his attitude may indeed make him more vulnerable to further episodes of depression, the Board does not consider such attitude equates to an infirmity with regards to the Police Pension Regulations. Likewise vulnerability arising from this attitude would not be regarded as permanently disabling. This is consistent with the case law on vulnerability.’

“Case law on vlunerabilty”.  Interesting use of the phrase there.  Just saying it doesn’t make it true and in reality the PMAB catastrophically failed to understand the precedents on vulnerability

It was accepted that Sharp suffered from a recurrent depressive disorder.  It was therefore unnecessary (and irrelevant) to consider whether Mr Sharp’s attitude was also an infirmity.  By trying to deny Sharp ill-health retirement and bending case-law to fit their objectives the PMAB failed to test whether Mr Sharp’s recurrent depressive disorder was sufficiently serious to amount to a permanent disablement.

Sharp requested a Regulation 32 reconsideration on the basis that Professor Rix’s report was misunderstood and the conclusion taken out of context. This reconsideration went to the same PMAB panel for a re-decision.  Unsurprisingly (and true to form), the PMAB panel stuck to it’s original decision to reject the application and finished by saying,

though mention of paranoid attitude in reports may suggest possibility of a personality trait, it would not amount to a disorder in the context of this case. The Board does not agree that likelihood of recurrence and persistent illness and ensuing disability despite optimal treatment is so strong, in this instance, as to fulfil the criteria for permanent disability

It was this second PMAB decision that went to judicial review.

Judge Brehens rejected West Yorkshire’s argument that both the Broome, Clementson & Doyle and the Sidwell case was applicable to Sharp.  The key to the Sharp judgement was that is was found that the PMAB asked the wrong question of infirmity and they wrongly considered the paranoid attitude to be the disorder.

So Judge Brehens found in favour of Sharp and overturned the PMAB decision by saying

I am satisfied that the PMAB ought to have held that Mr Sharp’s recurrent depressive disorder was an infirmity within the meaning reg A(12)(5). It was unnecessary and wrong to go on to consider whether his paranoid attitude was also an infirmity. It was a cause of the infirmity not the infirmity itself. I agree with Mr Lock QC that Mr Sharp had indeed crossed Bennett J’s line and was a recognised medical condition.

Judge Brehens continued,

‘Mr Sharp’s paranoid attitude is one of the causes of the severity of the recurrent depressive disorder.’

In other words, the Board had taken a symptom instead of the illness itself as reason to declare that disablement was not likely to be permanent.

Someone being, in the opinion of a SMP, merely ‘vulnerable‘ or having an ‘antipathy‘ towards their employers should not mean they are refused medical retirement. The vulnerability could be a symptom of a recognised, categorised condition which the SMP, for whatever reason has failed to diagnose. Those reasons may be simple medical incompetence, but worryingly could also be the result of deliberate policy by the force and SMP in collusion to prevent granting injury awards.

We pointed out above that law courts can’t second-guess medical opinion as they are not medical experts. PMABs, conversely are a medically expert arena, but have unfortunately consistently shown that when it comes to the law they are woefully unable to grasp the issues.

It does seem odd that PMABs are allowed to consider legal aspects at all. And if PMABs can misinterpret the case-law, do think it wise to trust any legal opinion of a lowly SMP?

For those officers with reports saying that their ill-health retirement is rejected due to’ vulnerability’ or any other vague and ill-defined phrase, please look carefully at any stated cases quoted by the SMP purporting to underpin his decision. It’s a sure bet that Sharp, the latest case-law on vulnerability, will have been omitted.

Ignoring something relevant which fails to prove one’s point is not how UK law operates.  You may have grounds to appeal whenever a SMP starts referencing case law.  An appeal to a PMAB will take you before a panel of doctors but the Board may have no better understanding of legal points than does the SMP.

IODPA does not suggest never going to PMAB, but we do strongly advise that you seek expert legal advice from one or other of the two excellent solicitors we refer our members to. A judicial review, based on errors of fact or law may be a better route than a PMAB.  Or if you are currently in proceedings for a PMAB look very carefully at the submission made by the police pension authority – are they relying on proving vulnerability whilst ignoring both your definitive diagnosis and the Sharp decision?

Alternatively, ask IODPA to provide you with information about how to use regulation 32 to have a SMP reconsider a decision which you believe errs in fact, law, or medical opinion.

Serving officers are facing hard times should they become ill or injured and are seeking ill heath retirement. It will not now be an easy path. However, it need not be an impossible path, provided that they seek professional advice and help at the earliest stage. SMPs, Police Pension Authorities, Chief Constables and their HR managers and legal ‘experts’ make so many mistakes that a challenge to a decision not to award an ill health pension has a very good chance of success.

Besides, why should you let the tyrants get away with it?

Redacted/Unredacted

Redacted/Unredacted

“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

And

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.

 

 

I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake

A new Ken Loach, Palme d’Or winning, film  stars actor Dave Johns who plays Daniel Blake, a 59 year old carpenter who finds himself unable to work in the aftermath of a heart attack.  1984 meets uncaring, capitalist Catch-22

Having suffered a heart attack at work, Daniel has been instructed by doctors to rest. Yet since he is able to walk 50 metres and “raise either arm as if to put something in your top pocket”, he is deemed ineligible for employment and support allowance, scoring a meaningless 12 points rather than the requisite 15.

Constant employment for forty years means nothing as he has to navigate his way through the Kafkaesque impersonal benefits system.

The similarity to a SMP ‘assessment’ is stark.  We don’t want to say Daniel Blake’s plight is exactly synonymous with those with, or applying for, an injury award – whether being reviewed or not.  The juxtaposition is the base medical pension is always there … there are exceptions, but those medically retired from the police usually aren’t users of food banks.

What is the same is the  cruel system that pushes those caught up in its cogs to breaking point.

The real Daniel Blakes …

 

Pawns in a Chess Game

Pawns in a Chess Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These struggles have progressively become worse over the years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IFS state,

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

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

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

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

The IFS report continues,

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

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

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

The IFS is missing an important point in this excerpt,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We may be injured, but we are free.

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

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

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

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...