Review

The only way is not Essex

The only way is not Essex

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
 Cool Hand Luke (1967)

It seems there has been a rush of blood to the heads of certain people in the higher echelons of Essex Police. For reasons as yet unknown to the Police Pension Authority, which is an office vested in none other than the sole personage of the Chief Constable, Steven Kavanagh (pictured), has decided to commence a programme of reviews.


For anyone who has not kept up with ongoing events in the long drawn out and sorry saga of police injury pension maladministration which has blighted the lives of far too many disabled former officers, here is a brief recap.

A ‘review’ is shorthand for what happens when a Police Pension Authority (PPA) exercises a power of discretion conferred on it by Regulation 37 of The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. A PPA decides to check whether the degree of disablement of an officer, retired with an injury pension, has altered.

It sounds simple, and it is simple. All a PPA has to do is follow the Regulations and be familiar with the ample case law which provides clarity should explanation be needed. Or, if they fancy a lighter but no less helpful read, HR managers could do no better than study the blogs which IODPA has thoughtfully provided to help educate them.

Yet despite this ready access to information PPAs have consistently managed to muck things up. You would think they were doing it deliberately.

In Essex, it is almost as though everyone who has had a hand in setting up this programme of reviews has been secured in a bubble, kept separate from the rest of the world, so they have no idea whatsoever about recent events.

Events such as the disaster in Avon and Somerset, where much public money was wasted in attempting to hold a review programme, which in our opinion was unlawful.

Events such as the Information Commissioner’s advising that Avon and Somerset and Northumbria had no right to continue to hold excessive historical personal information about retired officers.

Events such as the binding opinion of the Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone in the 2012 case of Simpson v. Northumbria Police Authority and others, where he made it very clear that,

‘The statutory scheme requires an assessment as to whether there has been an alteration in the degree of disablement first. A further quantum decision on the present degree of disablement is only permissible if the police authority, acting by the SMP, have first decided that there is a substantial alteration in the former officer’s degree of disablement.’

So, what is going on in Essex? What has prompted the idea to review batches of injured pensioners? And why has nobody – absolutely nobody – in management had the common sense and nous to look at the regulations and case law to see why their plan is likely to spectacularly fail.

It is indeed a failure to communicate on an epic scale.

More than a failure of communication, it is a failure of awareness, a failure of reason, a failure of professional competence, a failure of decency, a failure of knowledge and a total failure to treat disabled former officers with respect and consideration. There is so much wrong with what Essex is doing that in the space of this blog it won’t be possible to cover all aspects. We can, however, focus on a few elements which demand special attention due to their sheer crassness.

Let’s look at the letter and questionnaire which Kevin Kirby, Head of Pension Governance & Compliance has sent to the first of the injury pensioners who have been selected to undergo a ‘review’. Just who does he think he is, and just who does he think he is talking to?

He writes,

‘We will require a full update on your medical status since your retirement which requires you giving consent for release of your GP records.’

No, you can’t do that Mr Kirby. A review must only determine if there has been any alteration in the specific disabling effect of the recorded duty injury or injuries. One’s ‘medical status’ does not come into it. And neither does the record of a pensioner’s health since retirement.

He writes,

‘Please observe that the pension authority has full powers under the above regulations to undertake this review. It requires openness and transparency concerning your requirement to provide the pension authority with your consent and accurate information.’

Wrong again Mr Kirby. What are you talking about? The PPA has ‘full powers’? What do you think the PPA is – the dictator of some backward country bogged down in the Middle Ages? The only, very limited, power a PPA has, under regulation 37, is to ‘consider whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered.’ Where is the individual consideration in your sending out of letters and questionnaires to multiple recipients, all of whom are in the highest bands and thus represent the best prospect for the PPA to make reductions?

You can’t have your SMP make any assessment until you have carefully considered, in each individual case, whether a suitable interval has passed which will give good reason for the PPA to think a review is appropriate. You have not done that. Instead, you have gone straight to a process which is obviously intended to allow an unspecified someone to decide whether there has been an alteration in degree of disablement, largely on evidence of employment and earnings.

We do not think you have an inkling what degree of disablement is, or how any alteration is to be determined. Here is a clue for you. It is a medical matter, not a financial matter.

IODPA suspects that pensioners will be all too familiar with the authoritarian tone of a man who thinks he is in a position to order people to do his bidding. Pensioners, however, will know that he has no such authority. He has no power whatsoever to require anything of any private citizen, which is what all former officers are. He can ‘draw attention’ to the police pension regulations as much as he likes but even the most detailed reading of the regulations will not reveal anything which confers on a PPA the power to ‘require’ a single thing from any injury pensioner.

The questionnaire runs to six pages. IODPA will return to this most ill-intentioned document in full later. But for now, be amazed at how misguided the man is who thinks it is his business, his right, to ask you for details of your earnings, and then, astoundingly, requires you to sign consent to let him have HM Revenue hand over all details of your tax position, earnings and employment – since the date you retired.

To bolster up his empty demands for information, Mr Kirby then sees fit to issue what is an all too familiar nasty, and equally empty threat. He provides an Appendix A with his letter in which he seeks to tie his demands for information with a blatant but totally erroneous indication that failure to comply with all of his requirements will result in your pension being dropped to band one.

So, let’s round this up. We know that we are wasting our breath in trying to shock Mr Kirby into realising that he is just so very wrong in so many respects. He will, like all his colleagues across the country who have trodden this rocky road, go automatically into full defensive intransigent position at the first signs of any questioning of his plans. The only thing which will move Mr Kirby is when the PPA and SMP are ‘required’ to attend as respondents in a judicial review. And as sure as eggs are eggs that’s where Mr Kirby is taking his PPA and SMP.

Instead of trying to educate those who are deaf to reason and blind to accurate information, let’s close this by advising all injury on duty pensioners in Essex to file away Mr Kirby’s letter, questionnaire, and Appendix A for future reference. On no account complete the questionnaire. On no account give signed permission for the PPA to obtain medical or financial information.

The Scandal in Staffordshire

The Scandal in Staffordshire

Alea iacta est”  (“The die is cast”) — Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 B.C as he crossed the Rubicon river

November 9th 2017 was a black day.  It was the day Staffordshire police, Andrew Colley and Charles Vivian crossed the Rubicon.

The answer will be found in the courts and injustice will be vanquished, as it always is, but still Staffordshire police wants test their ruinous interpretation of the law whilst ignoring the collateral harm it is deliberately causing to those injured in their police service.

Why are we here and why wasn’t this stopped when the wickedness was embryonic?  What follows is a timely reminder.

Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin” describes how when behaviour worsens, those with the power to do something go on the defensive, convinced there is always a reasonable explanation for why what they could have stopped was done to others.

On the 7 June 2017 at court room in North Shields, employment Judge Buchanan heard how David Curry, a former police officer retired on a pension awarded for disabling brain injury suffered in the line of duty had been pursued since 1998 by his former force. Mr Curry had his injury pension reviewed in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2010 and continually from 2016 to 2017. The fact that he was sectioned and admitted into a psychiatric ward wasn’t enough to persuade his former force there had been no change in his capacity to earn.

David’s experience is sadly not an isolated instance. The charity Injury on Duty Pensioners Association (IODPA)1 has gathered a large and growing body of personal accounts by the victims of maladministration. So much is wrong with so many aspects of police injury pension management that the situation is little short of a national scandal, which requires the attention of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Disabled former officers such as Mr Curry can never be free from the police.  The new £7.5m Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW)  welfare fund is helping those serving but neglects those already injured and retired.  Ill-health retirement is sadly an acrimonious and bureaucratic process and this doesn’t cease once permanence has been proved and the warrant card handed back. Every time the postman drops a letter through a letterbox carries the risk of adversity; a letter from the force causing the injured to relive the trauma of how they left the police.

Through a fluke of mailroom efficiency, often these letters drop on a Saturday when week-day mental health support has closed. No other occupation has such a toe-hold on those leave through medical retirement.  They are being treated as though they are cheats or liars. Some, including those with severe mental injury, have been subjected to hours-long aggressive ‘medical inquisitions’ by doctors appointed by their former force throughout their life outside of the police.

When a force wants to review the principles of the Data Protection Act are often forgotten. As are the Access to Medical Reports Act, and General Medical Council and Faculty of Occupational Medicine guidelines. Pensioners are facing unlawful demands for access to their medical records and see reports written by said doctors, which contain gross errors in fact and law, delivered to HR departments without their permission. Pensioners have been threatened with stoppage of their injury pensions if they fail to complete questionnaires demanding sensitive financial and medical information having no relevance whatever to the management of their pensions.

Age can never be a factor.  Slavishly following a “policy” is unlawful.  It is never justifiable to threaten compliance or consent. A SMP can’t have a predetermined decision based on averages of prognosis for the general population.  Causation can not be touched upon  It is not about earnings.

All these things happened in Staffordshire on the 9th November 2017.

Those injured and disabled have to contend with pension scheme administrators who have little to no understanding of the Regulations which govern police injury pensions and whose automatic reaction to any enquiry or query concerning mismanagement is to circle the wagons and to deny, delay, obfuscate and obstruct. Complaints are brushed aside, and are labelled as vexatious, or an abuse of the complaints system.

Of major concern is a widespread misapprehension by senior officers and Police and Crime Commissioners that the Regulations permit regular mass reviews of the degree of disablement of injury pensioners. Mass reviews have been held, in some forces areas, causing very great worry and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families. Mass reviews are unlawful, as decisions made on degree of disablement are intended to be final and only subject to review where the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the pensioner’s degree of disablement.

There are 43 regional police forces in England and Wales. The picture is mixed, with the majority of forces not conducting reviews, whilst others have actively set about wholesale abuse of the discretionary power to conduct reviews. IODPA has been told by pensioners in these areas that they fear they are caught up in a grotesque game, where a handful of people on a mission are using them to test the boundaries of what they think they can get away with – all with the misplaced and illusory objective of saving money.

IODPA has no objection to lawful reviews, which it insists should be rare events, triggered when the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the medical condition of any individual. Research conducted on behalf of IODPA produced data on reviews held covering the five year period 2010 – 2015 revealing that 83% of all reviews held resulted in a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement, and thus no revision of the amount of injury pension paid. Some 10.29% of reviews resulted in a decrease in pension, whilst 6.82% were increased. Just six forces accounted for the majority of the reviews, conducting 781 out of the total of 806. Merseyside alone conducted a staggering 502 reviews, all of which are believed to have been unlawfully held.

It can be concluded from the research that some forces wasted a great deal of public money conducting unnecessary reviews, which cost around £2500 each, with other, more substantial costs resulting from appeals and legal challenges.

Avon & Somerset has paid one SMP, a Dr Phillip Johnson, £94,500 in twelve months from August 2016 to August 2017.  Add this to the £54,600 paid to Johnson from December 2015 to August 2016 and the £146,667 between June 2014 to November 2015, and the sum totals just under three hundred thousand pounds.  Given Johnson works as the force medical officer for Dorset police and Avon & Somerset already pays a salary of over £150k per annum to Dr David Bulpitt, the scales of money exchanging hands is staggering.

In one force3, pensioners were selected for review by what was essentially an automated lottery, with no evidence whatever to believe their degree of disablement had altered. In one force a civilian member of staff was given free access to the medical records of police injury pensioners. It seems this force allowed, even encouraged attempts to reduce injury pension payments. The civilian’s job description2 commenced thus:

Job Purpose. To manage the investigation and process of police and support staff retirement on the grounds of ill health. To ensure maximum savings to the force budget through the robust investigation of injury award applications, injury award reviews, medical appeals and reviewing permanently disabled officers who have been retained in service.

It seems this force has wrongly tied what should be the administration of injury pensions within the content, scope and purposes of the Regulations to the management of the force budget. Disabled pensioners are to be subjected to ‘investigation’ rather than be treated with respect and consideration.

The fact of the unlawful reviews is cause enough for concern, but there is a widespread and justified belief among pensioners that the reviews are motivated solely by a misplaced desire to save money from hard-pressed police budgets.

There is also uneasiness regarding the unhelpful attitudes of HR staff, the some doctors, and senior officers, some of whom are politely aggressive, or arrogantly dismissive of pensioners’ concerns.

It is unacceptable that that the rights of injured on duty pensioners should be trampled on by the failures of those responsible for the legitimate management of the scheme. Retired disabled officers deserve better. Attitudes need to change.

When a police officer is injured on duty, to such an extent they can no longer perform the ordinary duties of a constable they can be compulsorily medically retired. Injury can be physical or mental, or a combination of both. The retiring officer can be awarded a one-off gratuity and an injury pension, which is payable for life. The test for qualification for the award is whether the person concerned is disabled, whether the disablement is likely to be permanent and whether the disablement is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty.

The injury on duty pension scheme is governed by the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. The explanatory memorandum3 to that legislation makes it clear that injury awards, ‘. . . are in effect compensation for work-related injuries.’

In making provision for injured officers to receive a pension, successive Governments have consistently acknowledged that entitlement to a police injury pension is a key element of the remuneration of police officers to enable them to undertake their role with confidence. Officers need to know that if they have to be retired due to disabling injury they will not suffer financial detriment. Currently, that certainty is slipping away, and if this trend continues, then morale of serving officers will suffer.

If there was no injury pension scheme, it is reasoned that Chief Officers would inevitably find themselves subjected to litigation, with allegations of negligence, and claims for compensation for injury. Given that there are currently over 12,000 former officers retired with an injury on duty, the potential cost of litigation should there have been no injury award scheme could well have run into thousands of millions.

No amount of pension can ease the difficulties retiring injured officers face. The consequential mental trauma of injury can be severe. There is the loss of an occupation which for many officers is seen as a vocation more than a means of earning a living. There is the loss of the comradeship, and loss of the sense of belonging, of being engaged in a worthwhile enterprise with noble aims and purpose. With the shock of injury and retirement comes the need to construct a new life. Some disabled former officers manage the transition with minimal difficulty. They find a new job or a new career. They adapt to the restrictions the disablement brings.

However, for many, especially those with very severe disablement, IODPA is well aware that transition to life outside the police can be a lengthy and distressing experience. Despite positive changes in attitudes by employers, encouraged by anti-discrimination legislation, disabled former officers, especially those with a mental injury, may well find themselves to be unemployable.

The Regulations governing police injury pensions are not concerned with these problems. They address only the one issue, that of providing a minimum income guarantee in retirement, and on that issue they are adequate for purpose. An injury pension scheme is only effective where it is properly managed. The Regulations are not hard to understand. Yet they are being woefully misunderstood by some who have responsibility for managing the police injury pension scheme.

In November 2013 the College of Policing arranged a review of forces’ management of ill health Retirements, injury on duty awards and police medical appeal boards4. Amongst other conclusions, the resulting report found that:

Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations.’

The structure of some force HR facilities do not support the management of the process. When managed by shared service pools rather than through specific dedicated individuals, personnel are unable to build up experience in dealing with these case.’

The above issues are compounded by a lack of dedicated subject matter experts across the service and training opportunities.’

We have to look back to 2006 to see the origins of this sad state of affairs. Due to a change in tax legislation, and to preserve the tax-free status of injury awards they were separated from the general police pension schemes. The injury pension scheme became a non-contributory scheme, and award payments now stand to be met from the budget of each force.

This immediately brought about a focus on the cost of meeting existing injury pension payments. Some chief officers sought to reduce what was seen as a burden on scarce resources by manipulating the review provision.

Then the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 abolished police authorities, which had hitherto held the legal obligation to administer the police injury award scheme. In practice, authorities had delegated the administration to Chief Constables, but they continued to provide an important oversight. The 2011 Act created the office of police pension authority and vested it in the sole personages of each Chief Constable.

There seems to be a built-in conflict of interest in having Chief Constables, who must dutifully manage their budgets, having to attempt to set aside all considerations of cost when acting as the police pension authority. The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 do not say that a pension can be reviewed because a Chief Constable is concerned about the cost of paying it. Some Chief Constables have failed to make the necessary separation of their duties, to their great shame and to the detriment of disabled, and often vulnerable, former officers.

In Lionel Shriver’s novel, it was too late to save Kevin and those he massacred. The opportunity to make things right had passed. It is not too late for disabled former officers like David. IODPA suggests that Police and Crime Commissioners urgently should look closely at the human and financial cost of these issues and help ensure that police injury pensions are managed within the law.

1 https://iodpa.org/

2 See: http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/000.JDQ-Medical-Retirement-Officer.pdf

3 See: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/injury_on_duty_reviews_the_next#outgoing-510456

4 See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/932/pdfs/uksiem_20060932_en.pdf

5 See: College of Policing Review of Force Management of Ill Health Retirements, Injury on Duty Awards and Police Medical Appeal Boards

Blowin’ in the Wind

Blowin’ in the Wind

“I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible….except by getting off his back.” ― Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do?


…and how many times must they say they must review
Before there’s no savings to be gained?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

This song speaks about humanity, war and peace and other ambiguous questions which people refuse to answer. Bob Dylan claims that the answers are already there.  In his own words:

Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some …But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many . . . You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.

We at IODPA have been piecing together some of the pieces of the electronic paper trail left blowing in the wind by police forces, and they tell a story of their true agenda concerning reviews of injury pensions.

Some forces are two-faced.

With their public face, HR managers bang on about how they have a duty to hold reviews. They point to the Regulations in support of this claim. With their hidden, private, yet so revealing face they chatter away about the cost of injury pensions and how reviews might save them money. The hidden face reveals attitudes towards disabled people which are close to being hateful.

So many times have disabled former officers been told about the supposed positive, statutory, power to review an injury award, whenever the fancy takes them, and we have seen how certain police pension authorities relish the task. They, just like Tolstoy’s piggy-backer, claim in the same breath that they are a reluctant agent; that their hands are tied and they have no choice in the matter.

Blow the health and sanity of those caught up in the review roller-coaster.

On every opportunity we’ve argued against this hogwash.  Repeating our assertion that the Regulations intend that a review should be a blue moon event solely dependent on the circumstances of the individual.

And then yet another piece of paper flutters down in front of us.  This time from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

The latest IOD policy from Cambridgeshire is that as there are no savings to made then the ‘proactive’ review policy of the force will be suspended.

“That in the absence of current national guidance on Injury Award Reviews and the diminishing likelihood of accruing further savings, the current proactive review process be suspended. “

How very interesting.

It seems then, from this that the attitude of those in authority is the review provision within the Regulations is there to allow them to save money. This is about as far away from the true purpose and intent of the Regulations as it is possible to bend one’s thinking. According to Cambs, they review to try to save money, then stop reviewing when it becomes clear that there will be no savings.

Thus the ‘proactive’ review policy was always down to a desire to make financial savings and with the intention to reduce the band of those reviewed.

2.5       The process of carrying out first reviews has generated some savings through the reduction in bandings of allowance for some recipients.  However, experience shows that any further reductions in bandings is less likely as a result of second and further reviews.

Their ‘positive power’ to review evaporates as easily as turning off the tap.  When there are no savings they think there is no point.

Our message is, and has always been, that the true purpose of the review provision within the Regulations is nothing to do with ‘making savings’.  Any attempt to review on this basis is blatantly unlawful.

Cambridgeshire police pension authority has clearly fallen far short of the statutory legal requirements set out in the Regulations.

Cambridgeshire cannot say they inadvertently carried out a lawful duty defectively.  Once those defects become apparent or the authority was made aware of the legal issues, if, those defects go uncorrected and the action continues, it is our understanding from that point onwards those people working for the authority, and/or the authority itself, then commit the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

Read their latest policy and decide for yourself.
http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FOI-0871-2016-Injury-Awards-August-2016-FEB.pdf

(To go to page two move your cursor to the bottom left and click the arrow.)

foi-0871-2016-injury-awards-august-2016-feb

 

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?

 

 

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.