On 23rd January 2004, at about 8.00 pm, Karen’s life changed forever.
Karen, a police constable, aged just thirty eight, was attacked whilst attempting to arrest a male for robbery. The suspect resisted arrest; he fought with Karen, reigning several blows down on her head.
The struggle continued for some time. Karen made attempts to call for assistance via her personal radio but was unable to make the transmission due to the punches being thrown at her.
Eventually, there was a lull in the fighting where Karen was able to make the urgent call to her colleagues.
The male suspect, knowing that help was on its way, then made his final bid for freedom by catching hold of Karen’s hair and slammed her head against the wall. He was able to make off, leaving Karen crumpled in a heap on the ground.
Within a couple of minutes, Karen’s work colleagues arrived at the scene and immediately administered first aid to Karen. She was conveyed to hospital by ambulance, where she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where she remained for three days.
Karen never went back to work following this incident.
Karen’s injuries led to her early retirement from the police service on medical grounds. She had just eleven years service.
Karen was awarded an ill health retirement as well as an injury award and she attempted to move on with her life.
Life was never the same again for Karen or her family. Karen had changed beyond all recognition. As well as her physical head injuries, she was also diagnosed with PTSD.
Sadly, her former force has been a constant presence and Karen has undergone a number of (Regulation 37(1)) reviews since she was first awarded an injury pension in 2004, namely in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2016.
In 2016, Karen’s former police force again reviewed her injury award and reduced her to a zero percent (which is still a band one).
The reason why she was reduced? The Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) stated that her head injuries were due to a childhood injury.
Karen contacted IODPA via email and asked for help. She was unaware that SMPs are not permitted to go beyond previous reviews nor are they permitted to go back and look at her original ill health retirement decision. A review is a comparative exercise (as per the Belinda Laws v Metropolitan Police & PMAB). Karen was last reviewed in 2011, so the SMP should have been looking at evidence between 2011 and the review date in 2016.
The only question that the SMP should have answered was “Has there been substantial alteration in her degree of disablement?”
IODPA knew that Karen was out of time to formerly appeal the decision and that there was another route to right this potential wrong, which is by using the mechanism of a Regulation 32(2).
The team at IODPA first of all, reassured Karen that there was hope for her and we immediately signposted her to one of our trusted, expert solicitors. We helped her with her funding application, which enabled her to engage the solicitor.
Karen then joined the IODPA support network, where she was able to chat with others who had been through the same process. She was warmly welcomed and received good advice from her peers. Knowing that others had been through the traumatic process and had come out the other side, was comforting.
Karen found the strength to appeal her case, and we are pleased to report that she did indeed win. Her original banding was restored and all monies back paid.
Karen has told us “If it wasn’t for the support of IODPA, I would never have had the courage to take it all the way. I thought I had gone past my twenty eight days to appeal the decision, not knowing that this Regulation called a 32(2) existed. It was the best email I have written in years. Thank you.”