Review

Nottinghamshire Injury On Duty Reassessment Program – Part 1

Nottinghamshire Injury On Duty Reassessment Program – Part 1
              A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.”

Adlai E. Stevenson II

Another definition of a hypocrite is someone who uses PowerPoint slides to say one thing to others although they value and believe something else entirely.

Recently Dr Ralph Sampson and Stephen Mitchel of Nottinghamshire Police (Notts) gave a presentation (perhaps using PowerPoint – other presentation software is available) at a National Attendance Management Forum conference (NAMF) to fellow NAMF delegates.

They were talking about how they do things in Notts.  The bad news for them is the former officers reviewed by them inform us that, not only are they confused about their statutory duty, they are selective in their own rules and advice.  Notwithstanding the rules used in Notts by Sampson and Mitchel, those that they wax lyrically to the NAMF audience, are predominantly worthless.

The presentation concerned how Notts are reviewing those former officers they have medically retired and awarded Injury Awards.  We have obtained the slides for the presentation and have put it out into the public domain. The talk given by Sampson & Mitchel sets out their intention to conduct reviews because of concerns over their obligated cost of paying the awards until the former officer expires at an average of 83 years of age. It also says that reviews are intended to assess degree of disablement. Both premises are wrong.

Constant readers of these pages will not be surprised to hear the conflict of interest of having Dr Sampson as not only the reviewing SMP, but also as concerned with cost savings as his Notts paymasters. Notts-IOD-Presentation.pdf

Notts-IOD-Presentation

*click image & use arrows to view all pages

There are 17 pages to the presentation so we intend to spread the talk about the slides over a couple of blog posts.  But before will delve into the first few slides, let’s have a quick look at the words used by Sampson & Mitchel.

As expected with a NAMF presentation where the audience are eager to hear ways to reduce their financial commitments, ‘salary‘ is one of the most frequent words in the presentation.  This table shows the 6 words most prevalent:

programme salary medical band review smp
Word frequency count 6 6 7 8 10 10

The frequent use of ‘salary’ just shows what their real agenda is.

We can’t find fault with slide one.  It just contains the title of the presentation. [edit: A reader has found fault. The use of ‘reassessment’ (unlawful) in lieu of the correct term ‘review’ is indicative of a Freudian slip – thank you Whendie]

Slide two starts with the ‘background’ and mentions ‘earnings’.

2.Background

  • Reg 37(1) of Police (lnjury Benefit) Regulations 2006 Forces can undertake a review “at such intervals as may be suitable, to consider whether degree of …disablement has altered”
  •  SMP to make a determination if/ how much earnings capacity has been affected
    Band 1 (<25%)
    Band 2 (25% – 50%)
    Band 3 (50% to 75%)
    Band 4 (>75%)
  • Minimum = Band 1

The red highlighted text shows that either Sampson is ignorant of the Laws case (unlikely) or he is intentionally willing to review former officers contrary to it’s judgements.  They fail to explain how it is beyond all improbability that the interval is suitable to all the people they intend to review  by pure chance alone.

‘Earnings’ is a word synonymous with salary and has no place in a review. Use of salary as the only measure is a failure to  follow the judgement of Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and can only amount to an unlawful reassessment where a former police officer could find his injury pension being reduced because of a difference of medical opinion on his capability for work rather than there being any real alteration in the officer’s degree of disablement.  Sampson can not just ‘assess’ the degree of disablement.

The finding of Laws is that the SMP (or board) is not allowed to consider the pensioner’s current degree of disablement and then compare it with the previous assessment. The duty – the only duty – is to decide whether, since then, there has been a substantially altered change.

The right question for the SMP is not “what jobs can this person do today” but the comparative exercise of “has the impact of the index injury on the jobs she/he can do today substantially changed from the position at the last review date”.

The Laws judgement was reaffirmed in the case of Simpson. The conclusion in Simpson is clear. There can be no new consideration of notional earning capacity (i.e. what the officer would have been capable of earning but for his injury) unless and until there has been a substantial alteration in his physical condition or his present job opportunities, that is to say that something has actually changed since the last review, other than the mere passage of time.

But this isn’t what the NAMF delegates want to hear so Sampson & Mitchel play to the desires of their captivated audience.

3.Numbers / cost

  • 380 + pensioners in receipt of an IOD award
  • £3.36 million per year
  • No programme of review for significant period of timetherefore no up to date medical information to ensure pension payments more accurately reflected up to date individual circumstances and ensure public money being spent wisely.
  • Notts Force Executive Board decision to commence programme of review – all Bands included; age under 70 for this programme of review

Slide three mentions the annual spend on injury awards (just to emphasis their mission to reduce this figure).  The point of ‘not having a reviewing program for a significant amount of time‘ is a non-sequitur. A decision not to review is as much an exercise of a discretional power as a decision to review.  Notts admit that they had consciously chosen not to review, and now they have changed their mind.  Not knowing the individual circumstances of any given former officer is down to them and them alone.  Never do these people think that once someone leaves the police service, they want to live their private life without the constant forensic examination and prying into their personal matters by their former force.  Not having a review program is no reason to justify a new programme – quite the opposite.

Not performing any reviews gives a legitimate expectation that is based on the principles of natural justice and fairness, a maxim that seeks to prevent authorities from abusing power.  A substantive legitimate expectation arises where an authority makes a lawful representation that an individual will receive or continue to receive some kind of expectation that they will be not have to undergo the trauma of a force reviewing them.  Not reviewing is as much a lawful representation as reviewing itself.

The last bullet point on slide 3 is revealing.  It was the force executive board that decided to start a review program, not the police pension authority.  In other words finance officers, estate directors and HR directors all decided it was a good idea.  The police pension authority is not a committee – it is the Chief Constable wearing a different hat.

4.Preliminaries

  • Letter sent to eligible pensioners Dec 2013 advising that a programme would commence
  • Tendering process for SMP (OJEU – with Derbyshire and Leicestershire) – SMP appointment Spring 2014
  • Process – Liaised with Federation; NARPO;
    Regional Legal Services
  • Retained HR Admin support identified
  • No Regional OHU involvement

Slide four talks about who Notts have liaised with. It also mentions that there has been no regional occupation health unit involvement.  Could this be because they have destroyed all the occupational information data they have and are reviewing people ‘blind’?  They have apparently briefed local NARPO as well as the local Federation.  This is mentioned in the slide as if such an action provides their review program with legitimacy.  There is no mention of how the liaison progressed or whether any objections were raised.

5.Process

  • Sequence of review – eligible former officers who saw SMP furthest ago
  • Batches of 15 – approx six weekly intervals
    Former officer sent (1) GP consent ; (2) OHU file consent; (3)questionnaire to complete
  • Letters – 3 stages – 28 days /14 days / 7 days
    Following receipt of consent form, GP records requested
  • With completed paper/work, SMP undertakes ‘paper review” to make a determination if there has been potential ‘substantial alteration’ since assessment / last review
  • If no substantial alteration – end of process
    lf substantial alteration indicated – former officer requested to attend meeting with SMP
  • Following assessment, SMP produces report and officer has 28 days to indicate whether they contest findings

Slide five exposes the process.  The bullet points allude to substantial change but here is where the hypocrisy lies.  There is no mention of change to the medical condition.  It is about salary and nothing else.

Note that Notts expect the whole procedure for the 3 stages to be completed in 49 days!  Notts also wants full medical records as well the notorious questionnaire to inaccurately condense decades of life into unrepresentative bite-sized chunks.  The true agenda here is to examine the smallest details: a minute examination to enable apportionment and to revisit the original decision.

How can a questionnaire determine the existence of substantial change when there is no previous questionnaire, completed back-in-the-day, that can be used as a base line? The closed questioning leads to answers being interpreted in such a way that you can accomplish much more on the good days than on the bad days, the HR functionary will ignore any detail concerning your bad days and focus ONLY on what you can achieve on a good day.

Be in no doubt that the SMP will not be the one to perform this paper shift. An health professional is too expensive to contemplate and  slide four stated that regional occupational health units will not be involved.  Using a SMP at this stage will cost at least £500 per person if a competent preliminary valuation of the former officer’s condition is conducted.  It is ludicrous to insinuate that for 380 former officers they will spend £190,000 just to consider whether there has been substantial change before they call the person to attend a face to face assessment with the SMP.

Mass reviews, blanket reviews, wholesale review programmes; they are all names for the same thing – always an attempt to reduce, never to increase an award.  They are a conveyor belt with a predetermined agenda.  For the former officer it is equivalent to entering a Mafia controlled casino where the dice man, pit boss and croupier all have complete control over the outcome.  The review casino is selling an illusion that they are paying due regard to the medical condition correctly and that they are abiding by the Regulations.

That’s it for part one.  Part two will follow in the next couple of weeks.

Merseyside’s Hatchet Man

Merseyside’s Hatchet Man

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords, that where laws end, tyranny begins.

William Pitt – Case of Wilkes. Speech (January 9, 1770)

A hatchet man is a person employed to carry out controversial or disagreeable tasks, such as the dismissal of a number of people from employment. Merseyside Police employ a hatchet man with the grand title of Medical Retirement Officer (MRO) whose role is more sinister and which adversely affects vulnerable disabled officers and former officers.

His task is to prioritise maximum savings to the force budget, ‘through the robust investigation of injury award applications, appeals and reviews‘.

We quote above from his job description. This is what the man is hired to do.  Not placed there to help injured and distressed people obtain their lawful rights, but to ‘investigate’ them with the objective of reducing the amount of money which would otherwise be paid them by way of recompense for injuries incurred in the line of duty.

There is only one way to read the intention behind the role of MRO. It is a perversion of what the Regulations governing injury on duty pensions were intended to achieve. We fully accept that no public money should be awarded without due diligence. All well and good if ‘robust’ was taken to mean that great care should be taken to comply with the Regulations, but we see that in Merseyside they believe that ‘robust’ means doing whatever they think they can get away with to deny injured officers and former officers their rights.

What Merseyside’s MRO is doing is unlawful. And it is shameful.

We in IODPA are not naïve.  We understand all too well that there has to be some form of administrative procedure regarding Injury Awards which requires management by a functionary of some sort.  That being said, the functionary needs to be neutral with no set agenda other than the lawful application of the statutory duties imposed upon the organisation by the Regulations.

We are, frankly, appalled to see that the job description of the Medical Retirement Officer ignores this principle and imposes an agenda upon the position which prioritises the needs of the organisation over the rights of the recipient. The job description includes sentences such as:

[. . . ] ensure that any changes to pension payments are implemented and financial savings made where appropriate.

There should be no thought given by the Medical Retirement Officer as to the financial consequences on the force of helping to ensure the Regulations are applied lawfully. His role is an abuse of the scope and purpose of the Regulations.

When we see that the Medical Retirement Officer’s main objective is to save money for the Chief Constable it becomes clear that he can not possibly be acting lawfully.

We know, for example, that he takes it upon himself to decide whether any applicant for an injury award application is seen by the selected medical practitioner (SMP) or not.

On behalf of the Police Pension Authority, who is in farcical fact, not an impartial body, but is none other than the Chief Constable wearing a different hat, the MRO blithely breaches the Data Protection Act by forensic examination of the confidential medical records and reports of individuals.

No wonder the Chief Constable of Merseyside finds it hard to arrange for the Regulations to be administered lawfully. He is under pressure to reduce spending, and police injury pensions consume a significant part of his budget. But, that is a pill he just has to swallow. He is under a legal obligation to administer the Regulations properly. He is not entitled to look upon them as an expense which can be trimmed.

I refer the Chief Constable to the case of The Police Federation of England and Wales v. The Secretary for the Home Department (Neutral Citation Number: [2009] EWHC 488 (Admin) Case No: CO/7612/2008). This case concerned the date when new commutation factors for police pensions were brought into law.

Justice Cox stated:

The Home Secretary’s undoubted interest in the expenditure of police authorities does not in my view enable her to alter those rights and liabilities which arise under the Regulations.’

And:

Affordability and public expenditure implications are therefore, in my judgment, irrelevant.’

It is not within the remit of any Chief Constable to direct an employee to save money by means of unlawful manipulation the Regulations. It is an abuse of his authority to specify in a job description that the MRO must approach his task with the objective of making financial savings. The over-riding intention of the Regulations is that people should be paid at the level which is appropriate to the individual circumstances. There is ample mechanism within the Regulations to ensure that this is achieved. Nobody should receive more that their due, and nobody should receive less than their due.

Merseyside has deliberately set out to ensure that the latter situation is the norm.

The MRO decides regulation 37 reviews without the benefit of any input from the SMP. He decides who has experienced a substantial alteration in degree of disablement, and who has not – and does this, not on the basis of medical evidence, but on whether the individual has increased earnings or not. He operates a rule of thumb, whereby if someone has seen an increase of over 10% in their earnings then, ipso facto, they must have had a substantial alteration in degree of disablement.

This is what he instructs former officers who are on an injury pension:

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

We have to comment that the MRO has no authority whatever to ‘require’ any private citizen to inform him of a salary increase. Moreover, we feel like shouting at the MRO that a pay increase does not in any way signify that there will have been a substantial alteration in degree of disablement.

What the MRO is doing is creating an iron link between wages and disablement, when, under the Regulations, no such link exists. Disabled former officers are free to earn whatever they can, and their employers are entitled to give them a pay rise if they wish. A pay rise can have no possible link with the level of an individual’s degree of disablement. The MRO is using this as a means of reviewing degree of disablement, as an excuse for holding a review with no good reason, and as justification for reducing the level of pension paid.

Merseyside have corrupted the purpose of the Regulations and turned its provisions on their head for the sole purpose of ensuring that disabled former officers are robbed of their correct level of injury pension payment. The medical basis of assessment of degree of disablement has been abandoned in favour of an actuarial exercise where the cost exposure to the force is the bottom line.

While any question under the Police Injury Benefit Regulations is medical by nature and always requires the opinion of a SMP, in Merseyside the SMP seemingly does not make the decisions. The SMP acts only as a rubber stamp for the pre-made determination of the Medical Retirement Officer.  The Medical Retirement Officer is like an injury award hitman-by-proxy, getting paid to maximise cost savings for the Chief Constable, with no fear of any comeback.

Disabled former officers and serving officers seeking an injury award are kept in the dark. It seems very successfully, for few of them have the knowledge required to realise that they are being ripped off. Many of them are in no fit state to raise a query, and thus accept the decisions conveyed to them with no realisation that the decisions have been unlawfully arrived at. Put simply, they trust their force to do the right thing by them when injured on duty to the extent that they can no longer perform the ordinary duties of a police officer.

Clearly, that trust is sadly misplaced. There are some 880 former officers from Merseyside Police who are paid an injury pension. They need to wake up to the fact that they have, in all probability, been denied their proper pension rights.

Of course, a few individuals do raise queries with the MRO. They question his decisions. Some even manage to take matters to appeal via a Police Medical Appeal Board. Merseyside plays the numbers game. A deliberate calculation has been made, which concludes that those few individuals who do request an appeal to a Police Medical Appeal Board are far outnumbered by the majority who have no idea that they are being denied their rights.

The Medical Retirement Officer makes the decisions but never has to face the consequences. He never has to account for or justify his actions, as he is not the one who would have to be listed as the respondent at a PMAB, or at a judicial review.

The French have a term for such a position: éminence grise (French: “grey eminence”), a powerful advisor or decision-maker who operates secretly or otherwise unofficially.  An apt English phrase is ‘the power behind the throne’, someone who does not have the ultimate official position in a government or organization but who secretly controls it.

The Medical Retirement Officer is not a qualified medical authority – but is deciding what are essentially medical matters. He is making decisions for the Police Pension Authority, and we question whether he has the delegated power to do so. The Chief Constable has already delegated the day-to-day operation of his role as PPA to the head or director of Human Resources. Delegata potestas non potest delegari is Latin for a constitutional and administrative law, translated as, ‘no delegated powers can be further delegated’ and may well apply here.

According to Merseyside, a Medical Retirement Officer as well as having the skills to save the force money should also have:

‘A good knowledge of investigative procedures [. . . ].  Knowledge and understanding of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act with regards to surveillance and investigation of officers and pensioners believed to be falsely claiming compensation.’

Not only shall the Medical Retirement Officer have the principle duty to reduce financial costs to the expense of those injured on duty, but he is also let loose with RIPA.

Judicial approval should be the norm, not the exception, for placing members of the public under surveillance and public authorities should be compelled to report how and why they are spying on disabled persons by abusing powers that were introduced to protect us from terrorism and serious crime.

There is no room for RIPA in the administration and lawful application of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.  Medical evidence is paramount. If the PPA has any cause to think that any individual is working the system, the regulation 37 allows for a formal review of the degree of disablement. The individual can be medically assessed by a duly qualified medical practitioner, selected by the PPA.

The SMP alone should make an assessment, and a decision, and once made that decision is final. Should there be any attempt to exaggerate one’s medical disability a qualified clinician should have little difficulty in spotting it.  If  fraud is suspected then this would be a matter for a serious criminal investigation and prosecution.  It is not open to a Medical Retirement Officer to use RIPA as a means to maximise the financial savings to benefit the force budget.

An injury award is not a benefit that has to be reapplied for – it is an entitlement for life and is final once the high bar of the initial grant has been attained.

Is all the above too hard to believe? Can you bring yourself to realise that a police force, whose job it is to prevent crime, could allow disabled former officers to be put at the mercy of a MRO whose objective is to unlawfully reduce their pensions, and to do whatever it takes to prevent injured serving officers being granted an injury award?

Here is the job description of Merseyside Police’s Medical Retirement Officer  as obtained in a recent Freedom of Information act request.

000.JDQ-Medical-Retirement-Officer

This job description shows all that is wrong with the way Merseyside, and some other forces, are administering injury awards.  The glib references to following Home Office guidance is a poor attempt of virtue signalling – making a statement that blithely mentions the requirement to ‘follow guidance’ because it thinks it sounds right and it will garner approval, rather than because anyone will actually believe it.  This job description was created in February 2015.  The Home Office partially withdrew their central guidance for injury reviews in March 2012 and then completely in February 2014.  There is no Home Office guidance to follow.

Instead, the Home Office now prefers to keep away from the misdeeds of Chief Constables and their hatchet men. The Home Office now says,

‘We would advise, in the event that such reviews are being conducted or considered, that police authorities should satisfy themselves that they are acting in accordance with the regulations and the relevant case law in the light of the decision in Simpson.’

IODPA suggest that the Chief Constable of Merseyside take a long hard look at what has been done, and continues to be done in his name by the Medical Retirement Officer. If the Chief Constable fails to act then our suspicion, that every breach of the Regulations committed by the MRO is done with his approval and encouragement, will be justified.

There are 880 individuals retired from Merseyside who receive an injury pension. There needs to be conducted and independent and scrupulously fair and impartial appraisal of how each and every one of their injury pensions have been administered.

 

Snakes, no Ladders

Snakes, no Ladders

The only way is up down, baby
For you and me now
The only way is up down, baby
For you and me
Read more: Yazz – The Only Way Is Up Lyrics | MetroLyrics

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in Colliers Magazine on May 27, 1922.  The film version stared Brad Pitt but wasn’t as good.

Fitzgerald wrote a comic farce, which the film turned into a forlorn elegy. The film’s approach makes Benjamin the size of a baby at birth. Fitzgerald sardonically but consistently goes the other way: The child is born as an old man, and grows smaller and shorter until he is finally a bottle-fed baby.  He starts as infirm and dilapidated and becomes more healthier and youthful as he ‘ages’.

And? … you say, whether Benjamin started as a baby-sized old man or old man sized newborn is moot as both versions of Benjamin Button’s story is a fantasy – and what’s your point anyway? I hear you ask.  

A tragic story in the style of the great Fitzgerald could be written in the modern day as the telling of the story of the disabled former officer, injured on duty through no fault of his or her own, who as they age, they can only get better. In other words their degree of disablement can never, ever deteriorate by means of a substantial alteration and their degree of disablement never spirals upwards.

Is this still fiction?  No.  It’s happening in Merseyside.

No single person on a band one in Merseyside was reviewed in 2015.  Of the 502 reviewed they were all band two or higher, of these 25 were reduced and 477 unaltered.  But this force has 880 IODs, so what happened to the remainder?  The stark answer is that the 378 that were left alone and not reviewed were all band ones – just like Fitzgerald’s Benjamin Button, Merseyside has taken the view that they can only become healthier as time progresses.

Hang on though.  Is there more devious and nefarious  plotting going on here.  Could it actually be that Merseyside hasn’t reviewed band ones because this opens them up to the possibility of increasing the awards of those they review?  Enough of the grimly mocking  tone.  This is real and is exactly what has happened.

Response-Table-SM268-16

The Merseyside review process has deliberately ignored the tranche of IODs that can only have two responses if ever reviewed – increased, or kept the same.  This is not down to chance – this is overt maladministration in its dirty and unambiguous obloquy .  The blue in the below chart shows the band ones that were not reviewed against those higher bands that were.

MerseysideReviewedByBand

As mentioned before on these pages, we have data from most other forces concerning recent reviews and, overall, nearly 7% resulted in an increased injury pension payment – so, of the 502 reviewed, we should have seen approximately 35 people increased in 2015.   Not only are Merseyside deliberately failing to review those band ones whose degree of the pensioner’s disablement can alter only by virtue of his or hers earning capacity deteriorating, of those that they did review not one person was increased.  The probability of no person out of 502 being increased when 35 should be expected to be increased is 0.0000000049 (chi-square test). In context, the probability of winning the National Lottery is  0.0000000222.

In other words there is no fluke here,  no bizarre influence of chance that saw not a single increase in banding – it was deliberate.  As deliberate as ignoring all those who are band one.  Merseyside has acted totally contrary to the purpose of the Regulations and are unlawfully using reviews as a cost saving device.

If mass reviews could ever be fair then there is a prerequisite that it is more likely for someone to be increased as there is for someone to be reduced.  After all, time is by it’s nature degenerative – only Benjamin Button enjoys the opposite. It is a travesty that band ones are likely to remain trapped in the lower realms of percentages, unable to become upwardly mobile because they are deliberately ignored purely as a review of them will increase the forces injury award commitment and, in the absence of any knowledge that they can ask to be reviewed, likely to continue to struggle with an award too low in relation to their lost capacity to earn.

Too many snakes and no ladders.  For every snake, there should be a ladder; for every ladder, a snake.  But not in Merseyside – here there is one snake: the HR department.  And this creature is greased with slime.  Once down, there is no way back up.   This is not the purpose of the Regulations.  Merseyside are blatantly abusing their position as the administrator of the injury award system and should be held to account.

Access to Medical Records

Access to Medical Records

One of the most sacred principles of law is, that a written instrument must be construed upon the face of it, and that no parol evidence can be used for the purpose of inserting any words not therein contained.

– Sir R. Malins, V.-C, Inre Sayer’s Trusts (1868), L. R. 6 Eq. Ca. 321.

Let’s get one thing straight here, before we begin. For the benefit of any HR managers who do us the honour of reading our well-meant attempts to help steer them along lawful paths, and for the benefit of one Nicholas Wirz who appears to be attempting the opposite:

The Regulations are law, and it is not up to anyone to try to place upon them a meaning which is not there.  OK, that said, let’s get back onto the main topic.

There is a lot of sensitive personal detail in everyone’s medical records. For example there will be references to third parties such as family members, or notes about relationship problems or the termination of a pregnancy. The sort of information which is meant to be seen only by one’s own doctor. It is confidential.

Disabled former officers may not appreciate the implications if they agree to the release of their full medical records to an Occupational Health Department or to a SMP.  People do not tell things to a GP in confidence only for every little bit of information they give to end up being read by employees of a police force. Some doctors argue that if patients feel their entire records are routinely viewed by outsiders patients may decide not to reveal certain conditions to their GP.

We have a right to expect medical confidentiality so why should anyone be conned, coerced, bullied, or baffled into signing away that right?  But this is what happens to disabled former officers who mistakenly give in to vapid threats and sign away their rights, consenting to full disclosure of all medical records since birth.

Not even the Department of Work and Pensions has the power to routinely demand full medical records.  The DWP can only request reports as stated in this link DWP Medical (factual) Reports.

DWP and their assessment providers only request a report where it is needed and not in every case. The medical report you provide will then be considered when producing an assessment report.

NHS GPs are under a statutory obligation to provide certain information to a healthcare professional working on behalf of the DWP, in respect of patients that they have issued or refused to issue a statement, including a requirement to complete IB113/ESA113 reports.  This is implicitly defined in a parliamentary instrument, also known as secondary legislation, namely The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013.  This Regulation refers to evidence provided in accordance with the Medical Evidence Regulations (which prescribe the form of doctor’s statement).

There is no legislation that permits the same disclosure to a police pension authority.  An injury award is not a benefit that has to be reapplied for – it is an entitlement for life and is in effect compensation for work-related injuries.

But despite this, every time a force attempts to review an injury on duty award, without fail they will send out a consent form demanding access to all your medical history.

We believe that, in some forces, this is no more than a ploy to replace records which have been lost or destroyed.

We also believe that any demand for access to medical records so as to process a review of degree of disablement is unenforceable.

We know of instances where former officers have made a request under the terms of the Data Protection Act for copies of all information relating to them held by their former force. They have been told, shockingly, that their occupational health file and other medical records have been destroyed, in line with the force’s retention policy.

‘Destroyed’ is, we suspect with good reason, to be a euphemism for ‘lost’.  All psychiatric/ surgical/ general-medicine consultant reports and other documents of some individuals have been lost by the force since their retirement.  When they joined, full medical records were made available to the force medical officer and if they have since lost them, why would anyone trust them to be responsible with them a second time?  Once bitten, twice shy.

More than this, why do they insist they have a right to any medical records?

You may be surprised to hear that there is nothing that permits them to have any; not partial, not full. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Long ago and before the all-out corruption of the Regulations practiced by certain forces there was a time when, if a force medical officer had questions about a significant change in an IOD pensioner’s medical condition, they would order a bespoke report from individual’s own GP or specialist.

But Nicholas Wirz, Principal Solicitor of Northumbria Police wishes to change all this.  Amazingly, he thinks GPs are biased and advises SMPs to ignore the opinion of the pensioner’s own doctor.

This is an excerpt from Wirz’s January 2014 SMP training indoctrination course:

This can often be the case with reports produced by a treating physician in support of their patient. The patient may have a very strong desire to achieve a particular outcome (eg medical retirement; an injury award – or larger award; being found not permanently disabled if young in service etc). Applying the facts to the correct legal test may not support a conclusion supportive of the officer/pensioner. This places the treating physician in an invidious position.

Explicitly reaching a conclusion their patient does not desire risks destroying that particular doctor/patient relationship. A common occurrence is for the treating physician to “fudge” the issue. SMPs need to be alert to this and be able to argue why a particular report has not been accepted. Usually this will require an analysis of the correct test and where the report fails to appreciate this.

Wirz proclaims in his guidance to SMPs that all doctors will only tell their patients things that they want to hear, and that physicians commonly fudge the issue.  In other words, his view is that only the SMPs he ‘trains’ are the sole beacon of righteousness in a world full of misguided and fudge-prone doctors.

Hang on a moment. Back up a little and think about this goose and gander situation. What is sauce for one is sauce for the other. If it is OK for Wirz to say that all GPs and specialists can’t be trusted to be unbiased and impartial when writing a formal report on their patient’s condition, then surely it is OK for us to similarly point at all SMPs and say they can’t be trusted to be free of bias and partiality.

Who would you trust most to be truthful and impartial? Your hard working GP, trusted by parliament to issue medical reports to the DWP, embedded in the local community, with years of accumulated trust and confidence stored in their account, or a hired hand, a doctor who comes via his own private limited company with a contract through another private limited company to supply ‘medical services’ to a police force?

This post from February 2015 displays clearly how SMPs inplementing Wirz’s doctrine collude together to persuade themselves that GPs are not to be trusted and that any failure to disclose full medical records is an attempt to conceal from them facts that they can unlawfully use to reapportion or revisit causation – page 2 of the pdf is truly shocking: When SMPs Attack

Wirz continues with his claim that the SMP must demand full access to medical records, despite the fact (conceded in his own words) that the Regulations do not speak of medical records – only medical examination. It seems that in his delusional world a medical examination does not count if the SMP is not able to have prior sight of whatever medical records he demands.

So, if you are unfortunate enough to be knocked down by a number nine bus, does the doctor who arrives by helicopter to treat you at the scene first demand that your full medical records are made available? Why should a SMP need to see that you had measles when you were eight years old, or indeed any medical record which pre-dates the time of the last final decision on degree of disablement? In either scenario, a traffic accident or a review, what the doctor sees before them is what the doctor gets. Sure, they can ask for information, and the individual can chose whether to give it, but there is no way that any doctor can demand information.

Come off it Wirz. A SMP has no need of a full medical history to determine whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement. If he needs an expert opinion, then he has only to ask the individual’s own GP or specialist for a report.

Wirz offers these words of wisdom to SMPs:

An officer/pensioner who elects not to take a step the SMP considers necessary risks the process being concluded by management: on the grounds that the election amounts to a failure:

“..to submit himself to such medical examination or to attend such interviews as the medical authority may consider necessary in order to enable him to make his decision.”

Where the PPA reaches this conclusion it,:

“.may make its determination on such evidence and medical advice as they in their discretion think necessary.”

Even though the Regulations refer to medical examination and interviews, the provisions have no meaning unless included in those terms are the necessary preparatory steps before those events can take place. A medical examination would be largely meaningless without, eg, prior sight of the relevant medical records. If the SMP considers a step “necessary” then the SMP should direct the officer/pensioner to take it.

This orthodoxy from the book of Wirz is fed SMPs, who foolishly emboldened with the utter tripe that is Wirz’s speciality dish of every day, are now routinely demanding full medical notes from birth.

The trouble for Wirz is that there is in fact no onus on the pensioner to prove that their medical condition has or has not changed.  The last final decision is a given and is the starting point from which the SMP must make the assessment. When a police pension authority tasks a SMP to determine whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement, the burden of proof rests solely on the police pension authority, via the SMP.

The SMP can’t begin the task by assuming there is substantial change and then asking the pensioner to prove, by submitting medical records, why there hasn’t been. That would be coming at the task from the wrong direction. It would be illogical.

Wirz has taken the words contained in the Police Injury benefit Regulations and has performed with them nothing less than reverse alchemy, turning gold into manure.

The literal rule of statutory interpretation should be the first rule applied by anyone referring to the Regulations. Under the literal rule, the words of the statute are given their natural or ordinary meaning and applied without seeking to put a gloss on the words or seek to make sense of the statute.

The Regulations state that the pensioner can face only a medical examination. They contain nothing about SMPs trawling through medical records. It is wrong for Wirz to try to insinuate that the provision has no meaning unless full medical records are released.

Medical records are no small thing.  They are intrinsically confidential and a SMP has the same obligations under their regulator (the GMC) and by statute to act impartially and ethically as do the treating clinicians that so often are (according to Wirz) so eager to ‘fudge’ their reports.

The Regulations do not prescribe exactly how a police pension authority or a duly qualified medical practitioner acting on behalf of a police pension authority should set about any consideration but, using the literal rule, if the Regulations required the submission of ANY medical records it would explicitly state as such.   Of course, there is no such mention.

Moreover, any actions taken by a police pension authority or anyone acting on its behalf must comply with the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and all relevant parts of administrative law.  This includes Data Protection Act 1998 – Schedule 1, Part 1, Principle 5. Wherein it is stated that,

Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes’. 

We may well ask then, why do forces think they can hold on to sensitive personal information, including medical records, which has been processed at some point for some purpose, and has then remained unused for years?

And what is the situation should an individual refuse to accede to a demand that access is given to medical records held by their GP?

The Regulations say this:

Refusal to be medically examined

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

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

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

From this Regulation it is clear that a police pension authority, after a suitable interval and after consideration of the possibility of alteration to the medical condition, has the right to request an individual to subject himself to a medical examination or interview, but has no power to command it.

Note well  – there is no penalty for wilful or negligent non-cooperation. If the police pension authority decides to continue in the face of willfull or negligent non-cooperation then it is permitted to make a decision on such evidence as is available.

Any such decision would need to be rational – that is based on facts, and not punitive. There is no power for a police pension authority to reduce or suspend any injury pension in such circumstances. Such action would be unlawful.

There is nothing that expressively permits a police pension authority or SMP the right to demand that an individual agrees to allowing access to any medical records.

Since the appeal case of Belinda Laws in 2010, those subjected to a review have generally allowed the release of partial notes since the last decision.  Despite pressure from their HR department  those in the know have refused consent for the SMP to access full medical records and only agree to release of those from the time of the last review.

But if you consider that the Regulations do not refer to any medical records at all, then arguably no medical records need be disclosed at all.

This is not wilful, nor is it negligent. Rather, this is a considered and advised decision based on compelling legal knowledge that the Regulations do not permit the SMP to have sight of such records.

It may not be ideal, but that’s the law. We don’t advocate non-cooperation as a tactic, but we do suggest that disabled former officers should be very selective about what medical information, or any other personal information, they chose to divulge to the police pension authority or the SMP. Just because someone asks you for information does not mean they are entitled to it, or that you are obliged to give it.

As former Police Officers there were many times we would have liked to have had access to additional personal information on individuals but the law prohibited it.  This was to protect miscarriages of justice and to protect an individual’s rights to privacy.

When in doubt about why any information is requested, or what use will be made of it, the question to ask the SMP is for them to quote the Act and Section of any legislation which they think grants them permission to obtain sensitive personal information.

It is clear that Wirz, just like Grima ‘Wormtongue’ in the Lord of the Rings, uses words formed as his twisted corruption of the Regulations to manipulate people to nefarious ends. Fooling people by using devious and unscrupulous tactics to obtain irrelevant information is unethical and immoral, and it is certainly harmful to health.

The current Regulations do not serve the purposes suggested by Wirz and can only be interpreted literally and thus it would appear that individuals such as the SMPs who follow the book of Wirz are willing to operate outside the law to achieve their goals.

Unless you want to be reviewed or are currently applying for an award in the first instance you have the option to say no – tell them consent to any medical records is refused and revoked.  Even if you are applying for an award or need to evidence substantial worsening of your medical condition at a review and wish to clearly evidence your index injury, think very, very carefully about disclosing information prior to your injury occurring. Any disclosure has to be relevant to the matter in hand.  A recent, pertinent expert specialist clinical report carries more weight than you suffering from measles at 3 years of age.

No doubt there could be a backlash from the more idiotic of the pension authorities.  You may receive threatening letters from SMPs, Directors of HR and staff officers or even the Chief Constable demanding that you do what they say.  ‘Who are you go argue with us?’,you’ll hear them shout.  But remember these people have never taken the time to read and understand the Regulations and the case-law built around them.

If you are in any doubt then ask the police pension authority the question:

As nothing can be more mischievous than the attempt to wrest words from their proper and legal meaning, will you please explain to me how can a medical examination be interpreted as giving you, yet again, authority to demand access to full or partial medical notes?

 

Duress by Denying Appeal

Duress by Denying Appeal

As long as we can get redress in the courts, as long as the laws shall be honestly administered, as long as honesty and intelligence sit upon the bench, as long as intelligence sits in the chairs of jurors, this country will stand, the law will be enforced, and the law will be respected. -Robert Green Ingersoll

Police Medical Appeal Boards (PMABs), for all their faults, have an important function in the administration of police injury awards.

Quite often SMPs come to an erroneous decision and make glaring errors in their final report.  You only need to look at the legion of Pension Ombudsman determinations and high court judgements. There are many possible reasons why SMPs make errors. Commonly, they fail to assess the medical evidence properly, and may be misled by irrelevant, prejudicial or fabricated evidence fed to him by a HR minion.  The SMP may be following Home Office or  NAMF guidance which has no lawful authority, and in doing so contravenes the Regulations and the case-law that exists to dictate the narrow remit of his lawful duty.

PMABs provide a forum in which retired officers may have these concerns addressed. They serve an important institutional function. They should provide legitimacy to the system as a whole by maintaining consistency in decisions and their function is to prevent miscarriages of the Regulations.

Nevertheless, Police pension authorities seem eager to neglect their duty to act fairly.  They are knowingly interfering in the access to PMABs by declaring fictional restrictions, and to achieve this they will resort to nefarious threats that are well outside the sanction of natural justice in order to scare people away from their important right to appeal.

Just look at Nicholas Wirz, Principal Solicitor to Northumbria Police:

Crudace. Paragraph 49

On 2nd July 2009 the Police Authority solicitor, Mr Nicholas Wirz, sent Mr Crudace a letter which in effect threatened the Claimant with a £6,200 adverse costs award if he persisted with his appeal

…45 of the 70 former officers who were the subject of decisions on 20th February 2009 lodged notices of appeal. Mr Wirz sent a letter in similar terms to each of them. The letter has been the subject of criticism by Mr Lock QC and was also the subject of a complaint to Mr Wirz’s professional body

Recently IODPA has seen more examples of threats such as above.  A former officer has recently been told by a Northern force that the SMP requires, ‘full medical records to understand the baseline from which he has to assess whether there has been any significant change’.   Failure to do as demanded is threatened with the punitive reduction to a level of 0% degree of disablement.  Kafkaesque in it sinisterness, the author of this letter then proves his point by attaching a copy of the new ‘financial statement’ based on a 0% degree of disablement/Band 1 award. This is not far removed from the Medieval practice of showing the instruments of torture to the prisoner.

Forget lawful process; forget evidence of substantial change and the other requirements of the Regulations, this is simply: ‘Do as we say, or else’

In the spirit of the times, the threats are becoming more and more forceful.

Regularly appearing now is the threat that if, at a review, full medical records are not disclosed then not only will the police pension authority automatically reduce the pensioner to 0% without lawful authority, they also proclaim, astoundingly, that there is no avenue to appeal at PMAB.

This quote can be found in the new consent form sent out by Avon & Somerset.  Forget Kafkaesque; we need a new expression of surreal distortion and sense of impending danger – the Avon and Somerset threat is Wirzesque in it’s intimidating menace.

The former officer has to under-sign this statement:

I understand that at any time in the Procedure I may elect to withdraw my consent to attend a medical consultation or for medical information about me to be disclosed. […] I understand that in these circumstances the Pension Authority may decide the issue of Permanent Disability and that I will not enjoy a right of appeal to a Medical Appeal Board

The HR minion who sent this letter is referring to the refusal of consent of full medical records. There is no space in the form to specify a date range therefore they are asking for full medical records, from birth, or nothing.  Then they threaten to reconsider the issue of Permanent Disability  and continue to say the entitlement of a PMAB is forfeit.

There is no explicit mention of it, but the HR minion is of course referring to Regulation 33 (refusal to be medically examined).  What the minion fails to acknowledge is that consent to the pension authority is different and distinctly separate to the consent to a PMAB.  Also the minion neglects to inform the would-be signer that Regulation 33 is concerned with ‘wilful or negligent’ refusal to be medically examined.

It is true to say if consent to a medical examination and access to relevant medical records required by a PMAB (when the appeal process has commenced) is not granted then the appeal is withdrawn – but this is an entirely different matter to the disclosing of full medical records from birth to the pension authority.

Let us examine this further.  What if the person reviewed has good reason not to disclose full medical records to the pension authority? – this is neither wilful nor negligent failure.  In this theoretical example, just say the pension authority punishes the disabled former officer by unlawfully totally removing the injury award by declaring that there is no permanent disability.

Regulation 33 does not speak of punitive measures.  It also does not allow a gateway into anything other than Regulation 30-2(d), the degree of disablement – the sole question allowed in a Regulation 37 review.  There is no power for Regulation 33 to reconsider Regulation 30-2(b), in other words the permanency of disablement.

There is also no power for the pension authority to block access to a PMAB.  If the medical consent is subsequently granted to the PMAB then the appeal board will hear it.  Remember, the appellant may have a valid reason to deny full medical records to the pension authority but may be extremely willing to allow the PMAB panel to see the same.

The pension authority has no jurisdiction to block access to a legal appeal process.

Plain and simple it is a dirty threat that the pension authority has no power to enforce.  A rather sick bluff used against vulnerable individuals.

Just like the Home Office circular 46/2004 proclaiming that people over 65 have no earning capacity, the issue of consent to full medical records and threats to invoke punitive reductions of injury awards is hollow and unlawful and will be demolished by means of Judicial Review.

Deliberately scaring disabled former officers by exposing them to unlawful threats and frightening them into compliance is now firmly embedded into the PPAs’ toolkit to undermine the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

It is just heartbreaking that police pension authorities are on such a self-destructive path.

 

 

Neither too little, nor too much

Neither too little, nor too much

Hold it. You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see the three bears eat the three little pigs, and then the bears join up with the big bad wolf and eat Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood all who attend NAMF!

Tell me a story like that, OK? Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (misquoted)

A question … what does ‘neither too little, nor too much’ actually mean?

The term derives from the fairytale about a little girl named Goldilocks and her encounter with three bears. The nightmarish  modern versions recount a Director of HR who, every 2 years, breaks and enters a home and keeps sampling the possessions of the medically retired mother bear with an injury award, the father and the child, choosing, for example, an injury award which is not too low, not too high, but just right.

The term has now been adopted into a phenomenon often referred to as the Goldilocks principle and the Goldilocks effect.  Often Directors of HR put the term into their garbled ‘guidance’ when they write to the poor mother mentioned above.

Julian Kern, one such Director of Resources (and Chief Finance Officer!), keeps using it in his letters and his minions keep typing it out in their ‘guidance’.

The purpose of a review is to ensure that the pensioner is receiving the correct injury pension, neither too little nor too much

Another question … what has the Goldilocks principle got to do with reviews of injury awards?

Answer … absolutely nothing.

A review can only look to see if there has been any substantial alteration…has the degree of disablement caused by the IOD injury substantially worsened or substantially improved since the previous review or retirement, whatever was last. If there is substantial change, your pension will be altered accordingly. Up or down.

  • If the award was too little and there has been no change, then it stays the same.
  • If the award was just right and there has been no change, then it stays the same.
  • If the award was too much and there has been no change, then it stays the same.

Or in words our Director of HR might understand; if mummy bear’s porridge was too hot before and it is still too hot now, you can’t add cold milk to make it ‘just right’.  If daddy bear’s porridge was too cold before and it is still too cold now, you can’t heat it in the microwave to make it ‘just right’.

Laws Appeal, paragraph 19

It is not open to the SMP/Board to reduce a pension on a Regulation 37(1) review by virtue of a conclusion that the clinical basis of an earlier assessment was wrong. Equally, of course, they may not increase a pension by reference to such a conclusion

The level of the award is a given. It is decided once, when the award is originally granted, and there is no legal way for a police pension authority to adjust an award up or down because it is seen by an ignorant functionary to be, ‘too little or too much’. Quite the opposite – the result of all reviews is to provide a high level of certainty in the assessment of police injury pensions and not to waver as the wind blows.

What can’t be done in a review is any calculation to determine the current degree of disablement to enable the SMP,  or more often than not a HR minion, to compare this figure with that of the last decision.

Simpson, Paragraph 28

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

Simpson, Paragraph 31

The Court of Appeal in Laws expressly approved the decision in Turner. Rejecting the submission made by Mr Pitt-Payne for the police authority to the effect that the starting point for the Board or the SMP is to consider the pensioner’s current degree of disablement and compare it with the previous assessment

So a calculation of any sort is unlawful.  If at a review the SMP pulls 3 jobs out of their rear end then they have contravened Simpson, Laws and the Regulations.

In both the Turner and Laws cases, it was accepted that the degree of a pensioner’s disablement could alter by virtue of his earning capacity improving either by some improvement in his medical condition or because a new job had become available, which the pensioner would be able to undertake, which was not available at the time of the last final decision.

Is it unlawful to use a review to perform any calculation to use as a comparison tool? Does Ursus Horribilis defecate in a deciduous forest biome?

So the Goldilocks principle is pure bear excrement. The only questions the SMP can answer are:

  •  Has there been any change in the disabling condition since the last review or decision? 

and

  • Are there now jobs available to which could be undertaken, but which had not previously been available?

 

 

Protecting and serving the people of Kent

Protecting and serving the people of Kent

“I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”
Greta Garbo, Garbo

Kent Police has a fair policy when it comes to the administration of Injury Awards.  Their policy is that they will perform a review only when a pensioner reports to them a ‘material change’ in their medical condition.

In terms of periodic injury award reviews the Pension Authority have discretion as to whether they wish to review any injury awards. We do not undertake periodic reviews. Where pensioners seek a review due to change of medical circumstances we will review. It is important to appreciate there must be a material change in medical circumstances for a review to be conducted.

Kent doesn’t seek to reduce their financial commitments, they don’t use a clerk to perform the job of the medical authority;  Kent does not perform mass, blanket and unlawful reviews with preordained and manic zeal only to reduce as many IOD awards as it can, and to increase not one.

There are no HR drones driving policy in Kent Police thinking that by asking daft questions about earnings, driving, etc. that they can arrive at a conclusion about alteration.

Kent realises that the Regulatory requirement is based on medical evidence, that salary alone is immaterial, and they understand the implicitness  in the Regulations that the Police Pension Authority must have a duly qualified medical practitioner inform that consideration.

Even though this constabulary has a relatively high number of former officers with injury awards, it treats them with respect.

All in all, Kent seem to be a shining example of the right way to do things right.

Kent-Police-15.11.1137-Response

Avon & Somerset, Merseyside, Northumbria and their ilk are actually the outliers. It is Kent and others like them are the silent majority who understand the need to  respect former officers as well as possessing knowledge of the Regulations and particularly that

Regulation 37 creates three stages.

  1. The need to identify that a suitable interval has passed since the time of the last final decision on degree of disablement. That should be an individual process and not one governed by timetable or schedule, or pressure on the force budget, or any wrong-headed ideas about a duty to review. A suitable interval can only be interpreted to mean an interval which takes into account the likelihood of any alteration in degree of disablement. Reviews should be rare events, triggered only by a relevant change in relevant circumstances.
  2. After the consideration, there comes the decision, of which there can only be two. Either the consideration produces some good reason to believe that the degree of the pensioners level of disablement has altered, or it produces no reason to think so.
  3. Where there is good reason to think there has been an alteration, the PPA is then in a position where it is considering whether to revise the injury pension payment, and it must then refer for decision to a duly qualified medical practitioner the question of degree of disablement – which we know means the SMP looks to see if there has been any alteration, and only if it is a substantial alteration can he so report, and this report obligates the PPA to revise the pension.

Any deviation from these stages is unlawful. Such illegality has been exposed on this blog including Merseyside HR clerks, such as Peter Owens, who foolishly believes they have hegemony over the actual PPA and often shirks the lawful requirement demanded by the Regulations to refer the relevant questions to a duly qualified medical practitioner; or Nicholas Wirz standing over the shoulder of Dr Broome as he directed the pliable doctor to reduce over 70 people to band 1 in a single afternoon, or CFO Julian Kern blatantly overriding the outcome in the SMP report.

Despite all the bad news, forces like Kent need to be acknowledged for doing it right.

 

2005 to 2015 – A Decade Measured

2005 to 2015  – A Decade Measured

“There’s no going back, and there’s no hiding the information. So let everyone have it.”
Andrew Kantor

An often-asked question is, ‘How many former police officers have injury awards?’

The Home Office claims it doesn’t have a clue about numbers.  Whether you believe that or not is up to you.

So, unfortunately there is no central database, and with 43 police forces in England and Wales, one in Northern Ireland and one in Scotland, gathering in the information is something of a chore.  We at IODPA are pleased to say that for us it was a task worth undertaking.  And the results of our enquiry are revealing.

IODPA has been busy.  Using the Freedom of Information Act, all police forces except Police Scotland* were asked the question of how many injury award recipients they have. They were also asked how many reviews of injury pensions have been conducted by year since 2005.

* We didn’t ask Police Scotland because we get no enquiries from north of the border, and we also understand that having recently combined eight forces into one some record systems are in a mess.

First, the facts. The results are set out below in graphical form. Then the comment. We have added some observations on what the figures might indicate to conclude this post.

Not all forces have provided the information requested. South Wales Police and Lancashire Police both advise that they have handed over all their files concerning police injury pensions to commercial companies, who are now, it seems, administering these pensions. Cumbria Constabulary and Surrey Police are experiencing delays in providing the information.

From the data we have received we know there are 15,543 disabled former officers in receipt of injury pensions. By looking at some previous research, undertaken in 2011, we are able to estimate that the true figure is in excess of 16,500.

At the end of 2010, there were 13,872 IOD pensioners in England and Wales.  If we remove the PSNI figure of 2,566 IOD pensioners from our current estimated total, we see that in England and Wales, there are around currently 14,000 IOD pensioners on the books.

IOD ratio to Serving
Plot 1. Percentage of IODs to Serving Officers by Force (2015)

Plot 1 shows the ratio as a percent of IODs to serving officers by each force.  Those forces without a bar (at the bottom of the axis) have as yet not replied to the FOIA request

Unsurprisingly, Police Service of Northern Ireland, has the biggest proportion of IODs at almost 35%.  Other forces with a high proportion of IODs are: Kent, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, Northumbria, North Wales and Avon & Somerset.

Plot number 2 is a bar chart showing the actual number of IODs of each force.

Number of IOD Pensioners
Plot 2. Number of IOD Pensioners by Force (2015)

Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester, Kent, Merseyside, the Met,  Northumbria, Northern Ireland and West Yorkshire all have 500 or over current IODs.

Plot 3 displays the percentage of IOD pensions of each force which have been reviewed over the past 5 years.  No blue bar means no reviews.  Only 12 forces have instigated any reviews over the past 5 years.

Percentage Reviewed
Plot 3. Percentage of IODs Reviewed by Force 2011 – 2015

Now we start to see patterns appear.  The names of forces with either a high proportion of IODs to serving officers or/and over 500 IODs reappear as forces that have also reviewed post the Home Office suspension in 2010.  Avon & Somerset, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire are visible again.

Could it be that the greater number or higher proportion of IODs, the greater the incentive to attempt to reduce their financial burden?

Plot 4 shows us the distribution for the total count of reviews of each force  by the two 5 year periods: 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink).

RplotTotalReviews
Plot 4. Histogram (frequency count) of all  reviews 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink)

A simplified description of plot 4 is that there is a lot of blue.  Most of the pink is in the first column – the range of counts at zero. In other words in 2011-2015 most forces did not review anyone. The blue counts are asymmetrical.  This means the blue stretches to the right (right skewed)  and there are significantly more values of blue to the right as compared to pink.  Something ‘happened’ in  2005 and this ‘something’ stopped in 2010.

That something was the 2004 guidance contained in Annex C to Home Office circular 46/2004. The guidance contained the remarkable assertion that at age 65 all former officers suddenly lost all capacity to work and thus earn. The guidance also contained some illogical mumbo-jumbo about needing to revise injury pensions at what would be normal force retirement age.

The Home Office suspended all reviews in 2010 because the guidance was finally, after much pointless resistance by the Home Office, agreed to be unlawful. Police Authorities and Chief Constables had been shown to have been abusing the police pension Regulations, with the encouragement of the Home Office.

Plot 5 dramatically displays the initial enthusiasm, from 2005, for reviewing with a pre-ordained intention to reduce everyone no matter what the medical circumstances of the individual.  This came to a crashing halt in 2010.

 

review 2005-2015
Plot 5. Scatterplot of number of reviews by Force and Year 2005 to 2015

Plot 5 shows the flat-lining of reviews post 2010 with only a few forces daring to raise their heads. Merseyside in 2015 is a massive outlier – to be able to hold so many reviews in just one year their processes will have had to been changed dramatically from the norm of the past decade.

The data shows that a sudden enthusiasm for holding reviews of injury pensions, triggered by the Home Office guidance, was not universal, and that it rapidly tailed off once pensioners brought grievances to the attention of the High Court and the Pensions Ombudsman. The Home Office retreated and withdrew its guidance, but the damage was done.

The year on year reduction of reviews over the past decade is backed up with data published by the Home Office in relation to the decisions made in Police Medical Appeal Boards.  Plot 6 shows the numbers of PMAB decisions by the type of hearing: reviews (degree of disablement) or original decisions (permanency, whether it is an IOD,  disablement).

There has been a visible decline in all PMABs with a flat lining of hearings in the 12 months between Nov 13-Oct14.

PMAB results by year
Plot 6.  PMAB hearings by Year and Decision

Strong anecdotal evidence suggests that some Police Pension Authorities are solving their own ‘review’ conundrum by not awarding any injury on duty pensions (and deviantly leaving the officer on both no pay and indefinite sick leave).  Or if an award is given the force uses, in the words of NAMF,  the ‘neither lawful or unlawful’ method of the PEAM to only award band one to the former officer.

Plot 7 shows that over the past 7 years there has been an overall 2% increase in the total number of former officers with an Injury Award.

What is striking is the massive variation between forces.

Some Forces have doubled their number of IOD awards (Kent) whilst others have seen their number halved (Norfolk). Has Kent become twice as dangerous? These figures in isolation may seen trivial to the casual observer but by quantifying the figures now we have a baseline that will be the enabler to show future trends.  This will mean that no force can hide their actions from IODPA and other interested parties.

Percent Change IODs 2008 to 2015
Plot 7. Percentage change of IODs by Force from 2008 to 2015

 

What can not be displayed graphically is the fact that those who have caused so damage to so many medically retired officers by unlawfully conducting reviews are still in their jobs. They have destroyed what little trust existed but still they hold meetings and discuss alternative methods to undermine the Regulations. It is as though they were shown a glimpse of a golden future, where they were promised that what has been described by more than one mercenary member of HR as ‘the burden’ of police injury pension payments could be dramatically reduced. Having seen the illusion of pots of money flowing from the pockets of disabled former officers, to be spent on flashy new cars and computer systems and hiring more and more ‘Heads of People’ or other equally ridiculously-titled poppinjays, it is hard for some people to abandon the dream.

We at IODPA are confident any such dream will turn into a nightmare if there are any further attempts to subvert the Regulations and rob IOD pensioners of their rights.

Looking at the numbers – around 14,000 disabled former officers – we have to wonder why neither NARPO nor the Police Federation apparently have no database of former officers who are in receipt of an injury pension. It is a mystery.  Protecting the pension rights of disabled former officers would be made easier if these two representative organisations made the effort to compile a database.  Interestingly, we understand that NARPO does not even ask the question, ‘Do you have an injury pension?’ when former officers apply to join.

We mentioned the Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to chart one. The biggest force, with the largest number of IOD pensioners. We are glad to say that this force has taken major steps to put right the iniquities of maladministration which resulted from abuse of the Regulations. This force commissioned an eminent QC, David Scoffield, to enquire into everything, and to produce recommendations. Which he did. And which the PSNI are currently busy implementing.

But, are forces on the mainland watching and listening to events in Northern Ireland? As always, the picture is divided. We can see from the data above that the vast majority of forces in England and Wales either have not held any reviews since 2010, or have held only a handful. However, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire are still in cloud-cuckoo land and have been busy trying to mass review.

Either these forces have lost all touch with reality, or they are an axis of evil. Why would any decent, ethical, humanitarian organisation want to continue holding reviews when all the evidence is that no force has the structure in place, the experience, the training, or the knowledge to do so without continuing to make glaring errors and causing much distress and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families? That’s not just IODPA’s opinion, it is the facts, as set out in a recent report of an enquiry by the College of Policing. (Which we reported on in an earlier blog).

So, should we be pleased that so few reviews have been held over the last five years? When we see that of the 806 reviews held there were 55 pensioners who had their pensions increased, but 83 who suffered a decrease we have to reserve judgement. We think it entirely possible that the forces who have held reviews may be ‘cherry-picking’ – selecting the pensioners on the higher bandings for review, whilst leaving everyone who is on band one alone. That is certainly the case in Avon and Somerset.

We suspect that never holding reviews can be as bad, for some people as holding mass reviews. Those people who have experienced a worsening of their degree of disablement since 2010 and who should have been upped a band or more, have been denied their proper rate of pension.

We conclude that reviews are a necessary part of the provisions within the Regulations. We have often stated that we are not against reviews, per se, but we want to see all forces abandon their attitude where they think reviews are a means of saving money, and that all pensioners are scroungers or lead-swingers. We want to see forces set up proper systems to allow reviews to be conducted only when absolutely necessary and appropriate, and done so within the spirit and letter of the Regulations, and we want to see pensioners treated with dignity and respect. We want to see certain ‘hired-gun’ SMPs sacked, or better still, sacked and charged with corruption or fraud. We want to see certain incompetent HR managers employed at their true level of ability stacking shelves or collecting trolleys at Tescos. Only then will we rest content. Until that time we will continue to grow in strength, and in numbers, and our determination to see justice prevail will never waver.

 

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Merseyside and Avon & Somerset.  Liverpool and Bristol – the locations of 2 distinct police headquarters.  The Freedom of Information Act shines a light on how these public authorities operate.  Freedom of Information laws are important.  Of that there is no doubt.  They are important for public accountability and the equal treatment of all people under the rule of law.  They are important as an anti-corruption tool.  They are a mechanism to see the difference between how 2 police forces review their injury on duty pensioners.

Force Number of police officers Budget (millions) Area size (km²)
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 3302 248.9 4777
Merseyside Police 4516 307.3 645

Same Regulations, same decisions to be made.  Different results.

Between May 2014 and December 2015 Avon & Somerset has reviewed 16 people who left the force due to medical retirement and with an injury award.  Of the 16, shockingly only 9 have had a final decision – over a period of almost 2 years.

In a smaller time period, as discovered by a FOIA request, Merseyside has  performed 502 reviews in a single year.  Yes, you read that right.  502 in under 12 months.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/police_injury_pensions_117#incoming-742659

REQUEST RESPONSE
 

1. How many former officers of your force are in receipt of an injury pension, as per regulation B4 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 or regulation 11 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006?

 

The number of former officers in receipt of an injury award is 880

 

 

2. The degree of disablement of a person in receipt of an injury pension may be reassessed or ‘reviewed’ from time to time. In the period January 1st 2011 to 31st October 2015, how many reviews of degree of disablement were held?

 

2011 – 0

2012 – 0

2013 – 0

2014 – 0

2015 – 502

 

 

3. What was the result of these reviews?  On a year by year basis, please express this as the total number of pensions increased, pensions decreased, or no amendment of pension paid.

 

477 – No Change   

  25 – Reduced  

    0 – Increased

 

 

4. On a year by year basis, how many notices of appeal to a Police Medical Appeal Board have been made in regard to injury pensions?

 

 

 

4 Notices of appeal , 3 withdrawn prior to appeal

 

Due to the low number of appeals no further breakdown will be supplied as this will engage S40 (2) Freedom of Information 2000 – Personal Information, this information could identify individuals concerned.

 

At the moment IODPA will stay neutral on the 25 that were reduced.  We will reaffirm our view that provision to hold reviews of degree of disablement – at appropriate intervals – is a sensible and necessary provision of the Regulations.  Whether or not the interval was appropriate for all 502 individuals in a single year is a moot point.

But how can one force finalise 502 and another finalise 9.  The answer is straightforward – Merseyside has apparently ‘considered whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered’ and to do this they have performed a paper-sift.

The Regulations do not allow for a full and fresh assessment to discover alteration.  It is enough to consider whether alteration exists, and end there if necessary, before going further and asking the medical questions of the extent of the change of degree of disablement and whether the change is substantial.

This is where Avon & Somerset have erred in Law – Bulpitt and his cronies  think that consideration is a full fresh assessment and that is why only 9 have decisions.  It takes a long time to revisit causation and perform an unlawful fresh calculation.  Erroneously and shamefully blaming the IOD for the delay because you’ve wrongly and without authority demanded medical records from birth doesn’t half make time fly.  Unsurprisingly, it takes much longer to deal with the appeals.

Conversely Merseyside has whizzed  through their IODs, for good or bad, because they have not forced all 502 in front of a selected medical practitioner.  They have considered whether it is appropriate before jumping in and committing themselves and the unfortunate IOD to the odious possibility of reliving all the facts of the injury and subsequent life since the last final decision.

 

 

Lost in Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Death by ice shark,” Bulpitt replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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