PCC

Award Bands and Length of Service

Award Bands and Length of Service

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Abraham Lincoln

Elections of police and crime commissioners in England and Wales are scheduled to take place on 5 May 2016. This will be the second time police and crime commissioner elections have been held.

There was little interest or enthusiasm from the electorate the first time round, but now we have had the opportunity to see how these commissioners performed, perhaps we might feel more inclined to use our votes – if only to get rid of the one’s who have proved themselves to be a liability.

One such is Sue Mountstevens, whose area is Avon and Somerset.

Soon after the 2012 elections, Sue Mountstevens and finance officer John Smith, without any understanding of the Regulations which govern police injury pensions, dreamt up a scheme to reduce the financial commitments of Avon and Somerset by seeking to reduce injury awards.

To emphasise their agenda they started with a selection of some of the disabled former officers who were on the highest band of disability and who were retired young in service. Clearly, Mountstevens figured this was where the most savings could be made. As John Wayne might say, ‘She sure figured wrong.’

217450070-avon-and-somerset-pcc-wants-to-cut-police-injury-pensions

[click and use the bottom left arrows to navigate to all the 4 pages, including Damian Green's decorous reply]

Other entries in this blog recount the outcome of the sorry saga that this abortive attempt to rob pensioners turned into. Rather than save money Mountstevens has cost the ratepayers a small fortune in payments to Dr Johnson, who decided that for the sake of his own reputation it was safer not to make any decisions rather than be blamed for the debacle.

So that a mistake of this magnitude won’t be repeated, we would welcome all PCC candidates to read the information posted on this site.

And to help all PCC financial officers we can hereby say with absolute certainty that mass reviews, or any process that has lurking behind it any intent to reduce the injury pensions of disabled former officers which is based more upon budgetary considerations than anything else, is unlawful and will be successfully challenged.

Choosing which pensioners to review solely by the band of pension payment they receive is improper, immoral and unlawful. It is no different to the unlawful and now withdrawn Home Office guidance of reviewing and reducing those who had reached compulsory retirement age.   That was aimed purely at saving money and subsequently cost those forces which had zealously implemented it hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees and compensation.  The unlawful guidance had the secondary affect of introducing a raft of case law from strong judicial decisions which defined how the Regulations should be properly administered.

The injury pension of any individual is unique to that person’s individual circumstances of disablement and any review of a pension has to occur only at a suitable interval relevant to that individual’s circumstances.  It may well be suitable never to review.  Lumping bands together in order to mass review is as much an abuse of the Regulations as saying those over 65 have no earning capacity.

Let’s take a moment to see how injury awards are calculated. Potential PCC’s please note.

An injury award is calculated by reference to the person’s degree of disablement, his or her average pensionable pay and the period in years of their pensionable service. Schedule 3 Police Injury Benefit Regulations provides for the following minimum income guarantee based on the band awarded and the length of service.

Degree of disablement Gratuity expressed as % of average pensionable pay Minimum income guarantee expressed as % of average pensionable pay
Less than 5 years’ service 5 or more but less than 15 years’ service 15 or more but less than 25 years’ service. 25 or more years’ service.
(1)       (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
25% or less (slight disablement)         12.5% 15% 30% 45% 60%
More than 25% but not more than 50% (minor disablement)         25% 40% 50% 60% 70%
More than 50% but not more than 75% (major disablement)        37.5% 65% 70% 75% 80%
More than 75% (very severe disablement)          50% 85% 85% 85% 85%

As can clearly be seen, the percentages within each band increase as the length of service rises.  This means that those retired with more ‘reckonable years’ in service will always have a higher ‘minimum income guarantee’ (the injury pension)  than those retired young in service.

But how does this work with real examples?

Let us examine 4 hypothetical individuals (wages simplified and not lifted directly from police pay-scales):

#1 Retired with 4 years service with a final salary of £25000 ( less than 5 years)

#2 Retired with 7 years service with a final salary of £30000 ( between 5 and less than 15 years)

#3 Retired with 18 years service with a final salary of £35000 ( between 15 and less than 25 )

#4 Retired with 26 years service with a final salary of £40000 (over 25 years)

This diagram shows the proportion of minimum income guaranteed by each band and grouped by years service.  For example, Individual #1, with < 5 years service, has a potential band one figure of £3750 and a band four of £21250.  This is inclusive of both the medical pension and the injury award.

MosaicBand

As can be seen, a band one with 26 years service receives a higher minimum income guarantee than a band four with less than 5 years service.  Moreover, the injury award makes up a higher proportion of the minimum income guarantee than the medical pension for those with less service as obviously they have less accrued pension contributions. This seems logical as the older IOD (those retired with more service) has less years of life expectancy to be compensated for the work injuries received.  But this isn’t always the case.  A police constable could be in the their mid-forties and still be a probationer.

This is why just grouping by banding takes the whole award out of context.  The length of service and the final salary have strong correlations to the given band of the award, just as much as the injury itself.

Looking at the above plot you can see the blunder of targeting just the higher bands in any unlawful program of mass reviews.  Any such targeted action is age discrimination against those unfortunate enough to be injured young in service (note – not necessarily age, but service). Likewise, reviewing a band four at 60 years of age for the first time in decades, when they only have the  misfortune (apologies for the bluntness) for their health to deteriorate further and little prospects in any labour market when they have been unable to work in any capacity since leaving the police, is just as perverse.

Refusing to review band one pensions (such as has been the recent practice in Merseyside) is more to the detriment of those retired young service than those who were retired a couple of years shy of their full 30 years service.

Every decision to review has to be based on the individual.  A police pension authority has to apply their mind to consider whether it is appropriate to review that individual, by both first examining whether a suitable interval has elapsed and then considering whether the degree of the pensioners disablement has altered.

We in IODPA think that Mountstevens, her finance officer, and senior people in Avon and Somerset Constabulary reflected the attitudes which are prevalent in some other forces across the country. They think that because injury pensions are paid out of the force budget, then they are ‘fair game’. Such attitudes are wrong. Police injury pensions are protected by law – by the Regulations. They must be administered according to the Regulations and any impact on the force budget, for good or bad, should not enter into any decisions made concerning that administration.  The judicial review of R v. East Sussex County Council ex parte Tandy (page 9 paragraph 3) states

‘To permit a local authority to avoid performing a statutory duty on the grounds that it prefers to spend money in other ways is to downgrade a statutory duty to a discretionary power.’

 In other words, in this judicial review the House of Lords found that, for a public body, the availability of financial resources is an irrelevant consideration when statute indicates a standard to be determined.  For injury awards the standard is defined in statute by the Police Injury Benefit Regulations 2006.

Mountstevens failed to realise that her duties did not extend into allowing her to interfere with the proper administration of injury pensions. We hope that her failure will serve as a warning and as a lesson to any new PCC who takes over her role.

Compensation for Injuries received

Compensation for Injuries received

“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.”
Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

Police pension authorities often have difficulty in grasping the concept of an Injury on Duty award.  Sly words are used to try to dilute the actual purpose of an IOD – if a falsehood is repeated often enough the truth gets left behind

Sue Mountstevens, the PCC of Avon & Somerset has opinioned often in her replies to that an IOD award an ‘enhancement’ and, according to her is  is ‘therefore not a compensation payment for the injury received’.

She is wrong on both counts.  More likely the subordinate she instructed to write the reply is wrong and the ‘expert’ from the constabulary that advised the subordinate is wrong.

Lets examine the Explanatory Memorandum to the  Police Injury (Benefit) Regulations 2006  legislative instrument :

Policy background 7.1 Police injury awards do not depend on membership of the Police Pension Scheme, but are in effect compensation for work-related injuries

So an IOD is compensation for work-related injuries.  The regulations say so.  Regulations that no-one within any administrative role in the management of injury awards seem to bother reading.

Is an IOD an ‘enhancement’?  No.  As the memorandum says, an injury on duty award is not part of the police pension scheme.  If a former officer opted out then they would not receive a medical pension, they would just receive the award if they were unfortunate enough to be injured on duty.

So they are mutually exclusive – one does not depend on the other.  Looking at it this way (and this is the only way it can be looked at) , you can see that an IOD isn’t an enhancement to a medical pension – it is a standalone device.

Often an injured former officer had the foresight to pay a percentage of their salary into the police pension scheme so they receive both the award and the pension but the former is not an ‘enhancement’ of the latter.  In fact there is a deduction from the overall injury pension’s guaranteed ceiling level given by the band  – the award amount actually paid is proportionally lessened the higher the medical pension.

There is no duplication of payment, no double jeopardy, the medical pension doesn’t advantage the pensioner – someone with no medical pension and just an IOD award gets the same remuneration as someone on the same banding and final salary who has a medical pension and an IOD.  It’s just that the former is paid wholly out the constabulary’s budget and the latter has the medical pension paid by the pension scheme.

In other words, with the medical pension the police pension authority is exposed less to the IOD award.  Without the medical pension all of the money paid to the former officer will be in the form of the IOD award.  In a way you can view the medical pension as a deductible ‘payment’ from the IOD award. So definitely not an enhancement – quite the reverse.

Take note Mounstevens, all PCCs, SMPs and Directors of HR !

The case of Simpson, heard at Leeds High Court in February 2012, clearly shows Mountstevens is wrong:

Simpson 32.

I also reject Mr Sanders’ submission that the purpose of an injury pension is to make up for the financial consequences of an enforced inability to continue operating as a member of a police force’

And so the defining character of an IOD award is primarily an award for life in compensation for an injury sustained.  It is not a temporary facility to off-set a loss of earnings.

IODPA has had insight of several people inside Avon & Somerset stating in writing that ‘various organisations have been misdirecting their members’.  Comments like this deserve a triple face palm

The only purpose of these ‘various organisations’ is to evangelise the correct application of the regulations and the case law built up around it.  All the legion of pension ombudsman decisions and high court rulings would not exist if there wasn’t a concerted and directed campaign by police pension authorities to undermine the regulations.

IODPA would just love to hear Mounstevens and her ilk  riposte to the things we have written. The difference between her and IODPA is that we know what we are talking about, we live day to day with an IOD award.  Our careers were cut short and our lives thrown upside down. We have seen the injustice inflicted on our fellow former officers in receipt of an IOD. Consequently we have been compelled to become experts on the Regulations and their application.

We know exactly what little people like Mountstevens know about these things, the ignorance of what they are doing and their lack of comprehension of the damage that they cause.

Ignorance can be forgiven, and it can be corrected. But deliberate flouting of the Regulations and case law and a complete lack of willingness to admit mistakes, and to continue making, them will attract nothing but contempt and determined resistance.

Nothing to do with us

Nothing to do with us

“The ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’ field is much simpler and more effective, and what’s more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people’s natural disposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain.”

Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

Our “friends” at Avon and Somerset HR have declared they have to review injury pensions because the Home Office (HO) told them to do it.  A well-placed and always reliable source within the force tells us that certain people who should know better have stated the Home Office has directed forces to re-start reviews.

The reality is that after the PCC’s infamous letter, in which she tacitly declared that that former A&S officers with an Injury On Duty award were of no benefit to the people of Avon and Somerset, Carol Wood (the HR business manager) had a meeting with members of the HO Police Pension Team who effectively told her that case-law could not be superseded, that the pension regulations have to be followed and that the regulations do allow for a review, but only if a suitable interval has elapsed and with the belief  that the pensioners level of disability has altered. This all has to be considered on a case by case basis.

So what did A&S do? They chose 16 band fours all under 55 years of age. Let’s, for a moment, look at the figures and see whether the selection of the sixteen could have been on a case by case basis.

Of the 490 disabled former officers with an IOD award from A&S 347 are above 55 years of age, so 143 are under 55. For simplicity, just say the distribution between the 4 bands is uniform. Thus it could be said that 36 of those under 55 are band fours.

So the probability of  selecting a single band 4 who is under 55 is  7.35%
Therefore, the probability of randomly selecting 16 individuals who are each  on a band four and aged under 55 from the population of 490 is

0.00000000000000000177%

By way of contrast, the probability to win the national lottery is 1 / 14million or 0.000000071429 !

Enough of the maths – the figures indicate very clearly that it was deliberate decision and not a fluke that the younger band fours were chosen. The probability of randomly selecting 16 individuals of the same banding and age group is so slim as to be practically impossible.

It seems obvious they were selected solely because they stand to be paid a band four pension for longer than older pensioners. Therefore, HR have targeted them because they represent the best opportunity to save money.

The recent letter from the Home Office, below, tells us that the HO office have not directed any force to review.

t7416

It categorically declares that their position is:

  • reviews must be done on a case by case basis,
  • reviews at specific age points was declared unlawful,
  • Reviews must consider each case on its merits and take into account the circumstances of the individual.

The conclusion is clear: Avon & Somerset – and any force which targets a narrow selection – is acting contrary to the advice of the HO. And is breaking the law. The HO knows that such a targeted campaign is unlawful. The HO got a severe kicking in the High Court over its unlawful guidance in Annex C to HO circular 46/2004, which they allude to in the above letter. They are not willing to take any more flak so are saying in a roundabout way, that if the police pension authority cocks things up then its on them.

So A&S … it’s all on you. Don’t take injury pensioners for fools. Don’t pretend that the Home Office has told you to conduct reviews, or has encouraged you to hold reviews. It didn’t. You alone made the decision to hold reviews because you thought that disabled former officers would be a soft target for your money-saving ambitions. You deliberately picked on the most severely disabled, the most vulnerable and have treated them with contempt.

The PCC said they were of no worth to the citizens of Avon and Somerset, but you thought they were worth something, but only in terms of saving money by reducing their pensions.

Maybe Its finally sinking in

Maybe Its finally sinking in

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
Albert Einstein

align

HR-Meeting-notes—27.03.15

“The question was raised that in some instances Police Regs over-ruled HR Policies, consideration should be given to align HR Policies to Police Regs”

The above was recorded in the minutes of the AVON AND SOMERSET POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER HR PORTFOLIO UPDATE MEETING 27th March, 2015

ATTENDEES: Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner (SM) Mark Simmonds, CFO, OPCC (MOS) Julian Kern, CFO, OCC (JK) Catherine Dodsworth, Head of People Development (CD) Joanne Drewe, Executive Assistant to CFO & Director of Resources (JD)

Apparently their HR policies (in only ‘some’ instances!) are over-ruled by police regulations.   This is exactly the point IODPA has been trying to get them to understand for the past 12 months. Hurrah !

The delicious irony in mentioning that there is concern about the length of time taken to complete reviews is obviously lost on them as it’s now June still nothing has been done about it.  Obviously not too concerned then.  Boo !

Excuse the given that those in charge of the asylum have but a basic knowledge of the law and how to run a company but isn’t it pretty basic stuff that your HR Policies should align with your Employees’ Employment Regulations (in this case the Police Regulations / relevant case-law)?

Surely otherwise your HR Policies aren’t worth the paper they are written on?  The Human Resources department of a police force have polices that are contrary to the law?

Who’d a thought that would be a ‘thing’ ?

Who Pays?

Who Pays?

“Follow the money.  Allways follow the money”

Deepthroat.  All the President’s Men

“You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the **** it’s gonna take you”  “The Wire: Game Day (#1.9)” (2002)  Det. Lester Freamon:

There isn’t going to be too much written in this blog post.  Just the weighing of a matter.

Strange that the invoice Dr Johnson submits, under the name of his own private limited company, Sarum Occupational Health Limited,  goes to the office of Police & Crime Commissioner Mountstevens when in fact it is the Constabulary which is the Police Pension Authority. It couldn’t be the case, could it, that this huge expense wouldn’t look good on the Constabulary’s accounts, but the PCC can swallow it up in her petty cash fund. Is it simply a case of joining the dots from this letter to this invoice? :

Invoice-page-001

Finance Managers gone Rogue part 1

Finance Managers gone Rogue part 1

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

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

Letter from John Long to Julian Kern

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

A&S want to cut IOD awards

A&S want to cut IOD awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOI 1231 one year on