Chief Constable John Giffard

Nothing to say, Mr Giffard?

Nothing to say, Mr Giffard?

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.” Police caution to suspects.

Only in the oppressive, nightmarish and twisted universe of some SMP assessments can someone in ‘attendance‘ be told that not answering questions to the satisfaction of the inquisitor is refusing to attend.  It is likely to be a cold day in Hell before the former police officers are given the same protections of adverse inferences than those suspected of crime.  Even John Giffard, who was Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police from 1996 to 2006, should get to explain his version of events and his dealing with injury awards without getting to hear the police caution directed at him.

Anyone can make mistakes but below we evidence some extraordinary, and very hard to explain behaviour by Giffard and leave it to our readers to decide what lasting legacy such actions have had on present day injury awards reviews.

For sure, anything which he has done, or failed to do, will be brushed to one side by his former chums in the National Police Chiefs Council. These people are well schooled in the art of never admitting any wrongdoing and in protecting their own. They, and Giffard, would have known exactly what Gordon Gekko meant when he said, “Moral hazard is when they take your money and then are not responsible for what they do with it.”

Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in two films about the unrestrained greed exhibited by Wall Street bankers and money men, could well have appeared as a character in another spin-off film about the moral bankruptcy of certain senior officers, SMPs and others. Expanding on Gekko’s definition we can identify moral hazard as a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

In Giffard’s case, he very clearly did not do what was right. Quite the opposite in fact, and, to make matters worse, he did it as authorised spokesperson for every Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable, the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police and certain senior non-police staff and senior members of national police agencies and certain other specialised and non-geographical forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. In total, he spoke for over 300 very senior police managers, all of whom were members of the then Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Apparently, not a single one of these worthies realised Giffard had made a major boo-boo.

Unless – they agreed with what he wrote. Which is a scenario of corruption of frightening proportions.

So, let’s see what Giffard did. Back in 2004 he was ACPO lead for pensions when one Colin Phillips, Police Pensions and Ill Health Retirement Officer within the Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group within the Home Office wrote to ACPO. Phillips was seeking the view of  all Chief Officers, via ACPO, on some guidance the Home Office was intending to publish concerning the management of police injury pensions.

Here is Phillips’ letter.

HO Letter to ACPO Giffard

 The guidance was published in August 2004. It was the infamous, and since-proven unlawful advice contained in Annex C to Home Office circular 46/2004. It said,

‘Review of Injury Pensions once Officers reach Age 65

Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches the age of 65 they will have reached their State Pension Age irrespective of whether they are male or female. The force then has the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band of Degree of Disablement.  At such a point the former officer would normally no longer be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market.’

With this guidance in mind some 15 or so forces set about holding reviews with the intention of robbing elderly disabled former officers of their rightful pensions. We need not go into the detailed history of those appalling reviews and the hugely harmful effect they had on vulnerable individuals and their families, but it is sufficient to say that the guidance had to be withdrawn once the courts had declared it to be unlawful.

However, it has left a legacy of continuing maladministration in its wake. Moreover, it signified the unveiling of what had been hitherto thinly concealed antagonistic attitudes held by some senior officers and managers against police injury pensioners. For reasons we can only guess, some people seem to think that all injury pensioners are ‘working the system’, or are too generously recompensed for their injuries, or that injury pensions are fair game for any Chief Officer who wants to trim the force budget.

If the Home Office guidance was the trigger for an era of outrageous manipulation of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations, where certain forces have sought to make cash savings by attempts to reduce the level of injury pension payments, then the letter which Giffard, on behalf of ACPO, wrote to the Home Office is the smoking gun which signifies exactly who must hold responsibility for all maladministration occurring since 2004.

This is what Giffard replied to the Home Office.

Giffard to HO

Astoundingly, what we read is evidence that a very senior police officer, speaking on behalf of all other very senior police officers thinks that it is perfectly lawful to take away the injury pensions of all 12,000 plus disabled former officers once they reach the age of 65. Moreover, this is to be achieved by means of some guidance issued by the Home Office. Guidance which has no legal authority and is of no more value than any other piece of advice. In other words, ACPO thinks the law can be changed by Home Office guidance.

If we search for reasons why this crass letter was penned and delivered to the Home Office, signifying the total agreement of all very senior police officers and managers to an illegal action, we can only see two possibilities. Either Giffard and all said senior personnel were utterly unaware, to the point of gross negligence, that injury pensions can not be reduced or ceased as suggested, or all concerned were aware and willing to be party to a conspiracy to pervert the rule of law.

This is such a serious matter that IODPA thought it best to give Giffard an opportunity to offer an explanation for his actions.

Accordingly, we wrote to him. This is what we said:

IODPA-G-12-09-17

 We anticipated that Giffard might simply ignore IODPA or he might dispel all our suspicions and make a handsome apology for what was a most grievous error.

Giffard did neither. He surprised us by taking what looks like a cowardly way out. He sent our letter to the National Police Chiefs Council for them to deal with. What a cop-out. Not at all the actions of an honourable man.

I wish we could say that the NPCC responded in a positive manner. That would be too much to hope for, as we know only too well that nothing has changed at the top. First ACPO sells out disabled police pensioners, and now the NPCC waffles and says nothing which addresses the issue. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Here is the NPCC’s response.

ST_IODPA_Injury_Pensions_06_11_2017

It is interesting (a surprise to those currently being reviewed) to read that the NPCC chair, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, states quite clearly that:

Forces are no longer initiating new reviews of police injury benefit benefits, pending the issue of new guidance or directions

Nobody is going to be sent round to Giffard’s modest little country pile to invite him down the local nick to answer some questions. No boys or girls in blue are going to be raiding the NPCC for more documentary evidence of possible corruption or misconduct in public office. What we witness here is no more than what we have come to expect – complete denial of wrongdoing by way of batting off any complaints, criticisms or enquiries with meaningless measly-mouthed platitudes. And an unshakable certainty that they are all above the law.

If you want a glimpse into the murky world of top police management, then Giffard’s letter is the litmus test which indicates the presence of an endemic disdain for ethics and law totally at odds with the standards of behaviour and management we all have a right to expect from our police service.

Mr Giffard. your silence speaks more loudly than any protestations of innocence ever could.

Injury Awards: Why The Past Matters

Injury Awards: Why The Past Matters

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Confucius

There has been a massive reception to our recent post of John Giffard’s 2004 letter to the Home Office in which he wrote, without ambiguity, that ACPO wanted all injury awards stopped when IOD pensioners got to age 65.

‘ I suspect that my original intention was always to deal with people reaching 65 years of age and that remains the most important part. We continue to think that at that stage anybody inreceipt of an injury award should be automatically dropped to the lowest band or possibly even completely dropped.’

When he penned this letter Giffard was ACPO’s 1st Vice President and their spokesman on pension matters, having held this role since 2003. Had he read the Regulations, he would have known that an injury pension can not be stopped. It is payable for life.

The inference is though that Giffard knew that, but wished to disregard it. It is hard to find words to describe the utter corruption displayed should it be the case that Giffard, and ACPO, and the Home Office knew that injury pensions could not be stopped as proposed.

What do you call someone who is in authority but chooses to use their position to undermine a benefit scheme intended to be a vital component of the contract between police officers and their employers? It must be regarded as one of the most despicable acts of betrayal ever perpetrated on any body of loyal officers of the Crown.

Every problem disabled former officers have faced over the last decade or so have come about by the mismanagement and meddling of the Home Office, aided and abetted by a compliant ACPO. Every decision made in respect of degree of disablement, or grant of an injury award, since the time ACPO and the Home Office poisoned the well must be viewed as potentially flawed.

Even the national media reported the shift towards pure antagonism from ACPO viewing those injured and receiving injury pensions form heroes to a burden.  This Telegraph article is dated 2002 and mentions a quote from Giffard.

Police pension crisis looms

Already the number of former officers on pensions almost matches the 125,000 currently serving. As with the rest of the population, they are living longer. There is no separate, superannuated pension fund for the police, so the costs of retirements comes from money which could be spent on fighting crime.

There may be some who think the past is the past and should be left alone.  There is a popular adage in our society that goes something like this: Forget the past, don’t worry about the future, live in the present.

This position is untenable when considering how widely injury awards have been mismanaged. The past is vitally important, for the whole validity of each and every medical decision made by SMPs in regard to injury pensions is defined by the legitimacy of the last final decision.

Any review of degree of disablement, such as the mass reviews Staffordshire wants to conduct, depends on the fact that the previous decision on degree of disablement, whether this is the original decision or at an earlier review, was lawful. Once a decision is made, it is to be regarded, in law, as a final decision. It can be revisited or challenged by way of appeal, but if there has been no challenge then it must stand inviolable.

No matter that it may have been a bad decision. It has to be taken as a given, and as the starting point from which any future decisions on degree of disablement must proceed.

When mistakes have been made, whether in law or in fact, there is no way anyone in receipt of an injury pension can move forward until the past is fixed.  A review under Regulation 37 cannot fix the past; all it can do is only reaffirm the damage already done as the only test it can apply is “has there been substantial change” … a review can’t ask, “was the previous review lawful“.  Only a reconsideration under Regulation 32 has that power.

A medically retired former police officer in receipt of an injury pension should not have to face a Regulation 37(1) review when the last decision was corrupted, for as to do so would be accepting the unlawful determination of the SMP as a final decision.

And this brings us to Staffordshire police’s current eagerness to conduct a mass review program and the history behind it.

Giffard’s letter was the starting gun for around half of Staffordshire’s IOD pensioners to be reviewed from 2005 to 2008.  All these reviews were conducted mostly on paper without a medical authority making any decisions. We have yet to find out, but we believe it likely that the people selected were all on bands two, three and four. Those on band one were left alone, and we can guarantee the reason was because Staffs figured out that anyone on band one could not have their pension reduced, but there was a danger some of them might qualify for it to be increased.

Some pensioners at the time put up a valiant effort to inform  and educate Giffard and his HR Director,  Graham Liddiard, that the actions of Staffordshire Police was both morally corrupt and unlawful.  Pushed into a corner, Staffordshire saw they were found out and semi-capitulated by promising that they wouldn’t repeat their wrongdoing and the result was the shameful and unlawful agreement made by local NARPO, and local Federation with Staffs police.

This is a 2007 email from Graham Liddiard to Staffs NARPO.  Liddiard actually proclaims that the Regulations allow him to take injury awards away from those vulnerable and medically disabled.  Liddiard says:

The Home Office issued circular 46/2004 because it was clear that in many forces, including Staffordshire, the administration and payment of injury awards had slipped away from the regulatory position. The position adopted by Staffordshire is similar to and, in many cases, more  generous than that adopted by a number of forces outside the Met.  It is clear that Staffordshire, along with very many other forces, has not administered injury awards as  the regulations require.

Slipped away from the regulatory position‘ … in other words to justify the illegality he is claiming he has no choice – the Regulations are making him do it.  And he thinks two wrongs make a right; that by previously ‘not administering injury awards as the regulations require‘ it excuses him from now unlawfully administering the Regulations definitely not as required.

This one-sided statement makes it clear that Staffordshire Police, even in 2007, was still hellbent in implementing the Home Office guidance in it’s rawest form.  Cogent reason, National Earnings Averages … all made up.  No such things exists in the Regulations.

There are countless life-giving lessons those who administer police injury pensions in Staffordshire could have learnt from it’s past but the current police pension authority – none other than an office vested in the sole personage of the Chief Constable – has refused to learn and is rolling on in the present as if the unlawful actions it carried out never happened.

All those people reviewed over a decade ago and who were reduced or wrongly kept on the same banding when their medical condition may have deteriorated to the extent they should have been increased, but with no selected medical practitioner used by Staffordshire back then, the reviews were all patently unlawful.

The Telegraph article makes it clear that Giffard was a major force in helping the Home Office contravene the Regulations. We accept there was some pressure on budgets then, as now, but we firmly reject that as any sort of reason for the actions of ACPO and the Home Office. The duty place by the Regulations on various authorities is to actively promote the scope and purpose of the benefits scheme. There is no duty to try to find devious ways of subverting the Regulations, but this is exactly what ACPO and the Home Office did. They didn’t much like the law, so they conspired to find ways to get around it.

This is the letter from the Home Office to Giffard that explains the thought processes of ACPO and the civil servants.

Letter HO to Giffard Staffs

Neither Giffard, speaking for ACPO, nor the Home Office could change the legislation so they conspired to change how the medical decisions would be made. Colin Phillips, the Home Office’s Police Pensions and Ill Health Retirement Officer wrote :

I write to inform you of some proposed changes that we are considering making to the guidance to police medical appeal  boards … As you know, it is important to balance safeguarding the public purse and safeguarding the interests of pensioners and that the correct band is identified

We worry for the sanity of Colin Phillips if he thought a global reduction to the lowest degree of disablement is safeguarding the interests of the pensioner! The reason for all this schadenfreude is a simple one.

They knew they could not make revisions to the existing scheme, as a) there is a general legal rule prohibiting retrospective application and, b) there is a clause in the parent Act which says that no alteration in terms and conditions which result in a worsening of benefits can be applied to existing members of the scheme unless they are first asked if they wish to accept the changes. The parent act is the Police Pensions Act 1973. Section 2 of that Act of Parliament says:

(2) No provision shall be made by regulations under section 1 above by virtue of subsection (1) above unless any person who is placed in a worse position than he would have been in if the provision had not applied in relation to any pension which is being paid or may become payable to him is by the regulations given an opportunity to elect that the provision shall not so apply.

In other words no person in receipt of an injury on duty could ever be disadvantaged by a change of legislation.

The only ammunition the Home Office had was to shape and influence how the current Regulations would be applied by those under its control. The Home Office issued guidance to PMABs and to all forces which advised actions which were unlawful.

To the eternal shame of all Chief Constables at the time, not a single one of them spoke up and pointed out that the guidance was evil rubbish. Not a one. Nobody. Some of them just kept quiet and did not implement the guidance. Their silence did not indicate any concerns over the legality of the guidance – it served only to make it easier for those forces which had grasped onto the guidance as a way of reducing the ‘burden’ of paying injury pensions to set about robbing their disabled former officers.

Fourteen years of poison, influencing those who make decisions in the administration of injury awards, has produced the likes of Wirz, Cheng and deviant HR directors.

The past is the key to this and with hindsight it is easy to see how the monsters have stepped out from the dark and now perform their roles in full view of those, like PFEW, Police and Crime Commissioners, honest HR managers, and senior officers who should be shouting from the rafters.

This takes us back yet again to Staffordshire.  Giffard and his cronies invoked the Home Office guidance with zeal, but how many of those individuals whose pensions were unlawfully reduced have had their banding restored to the correct level?  How many who were reviewed by a HR minion in order to get to the “agreement” once Staffordshire realised they had a damage limitation problem to contain?

Other forces have paid back millions in unlawful deductions.  The Metropolitan Police does not review at all arguably because of the £80m recompense added to police authorities’ bills.  This huge total doesn’t even reflect the needless self-imposed legal fees these forces spent on compliant lawyers to justify the indefensible.

Retired police officer wins injury pension ruling

Police authorities may have to find tens of millions of pounds extra to fund their pension liabilities after a retired inspector won a landmark legal challenge preserving his income. The ruling by a court in Leeds overturns Home Office guidance that permitted a review of the pensions of injured officers once they reach retirement age and resulted in lower payments.

Staffordshire is again hell-bent on breaking the law by unlawfully holding reviews. IODPA wishes to make it clear to all concerned that no reviews should take place until past errors have been identified and corrected.

Staffordshire Former Chief Constable Wanted Injury Awards Removed

Staffordshire Former Chief Constable Wanted Injury Awards Removed

Theresa May has hailed the ‘unbreakable spirit’ of Mancunians as she signed the book of condolences for those killed in the terror attack. The Prime Minister said that people would remember those who died and ‘celebrate those who helped’, insisting that ‘terrorism never wins’.

“As we remember those who died, their loved ones and those who were injured, we will celebrate those who helped, safe in the knowledge that terrorism never wins, our country and our way of life will prevail.’

PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. Photo credit: Arj Singh/PA Wire

The PM’s letter is welcome public show of support for the emergency services.

However, by way of sharp contrast, this is what one former Chief Constable wrote, in a letter which he no doubt never thought would be made public. It exposes a different, dark and sinister view of how police officers who daily face danger should be treated. It was penned way back in 2004 by the then Chief Constable of Staffordshire, John W Giffard and addressed to the Home Office.

Giffard Reply to HO

Giffard advocates that those injured on duty in criminal assaults, which would have included those injured in historical terrorist activities, both here on the mainland and in Northern Ireland, should have their injury pensions taken from them when they reached the age of 65.  So, just at the time when a pension would be most needed, this heartless figurehead proposes to have them taken away. This isn’t the spouting of a civil servant or an accountant.  This was a Chief Constable sending a message to his chums in the Home Office, agreeing to support whatever the Home Office was planning to do.

Significantly, Giffard was not offering a personal statement. He wrote as the spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Thus his view can only be taken as the combined agreed view of all Chief Constables. They were proposing to go along with an unlawful reduction of police injury pensions. The cost of paying injury pensions had become a significant concern, so instead of finding ways to continue to honour the payments which the law set out, the Home Office and ACPO conspired to find underhand, unlawful ways to subvert the pension arrangements.

Let’s make this as clear as we can. Elements in the Home Office conspired with ACPO to break the law.

Giffard proclaims:

We continue to think that at that stage anybody in receipt of an injury award should be dropped to the lowest band or possibly even completely dropped.

Note well, he uses the word ‘we’ which confirms he speaks for all members of ACPO. Note also, ACPO wants injury awards completely dropped, removed, taken away.  If they can’t get their way, then they’ll settle to a reduction to the lowest band.  With total disregard to the law and the severity of the disability of those in receipt of an injury award.

Giffard was not talking about some future, new, pension scheme. He was writing in respect of what would become, a few weeks later, the infamous advice from the Home Office, issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004 which advised all forces that injury pensions could be reduced to the lowest band at age 65.

‘Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches the age of 65 they will have reached their State Pension Age irrespective of whether they are male or female. The force then has the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band of Degree of Disablement.  At such a point the former officer would normally no longer be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market.’

The Home Office felt confident in issuing unlawful advice as it had the assurance of ACPO that Chief Constables would not raise any objections.

That was in 2004. The Home Office guidance has been declared unlawful in the High Court and has been withdrawn. Yet still we see Staffordshire and some other forces plotting to reduce injury pension payments, contrary to the law of the land. The current Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers hands over her baton to none other than Gareth Morgan on the 19th June. Gareth Morgan, as we have mentioned in an earlier blog, comes from that other hotbed of injury pension abuse, Avon and Somerset. His well-fed and self-satisfied frame should fit in well in Staffordshire. We can count on him to endorse the proposed unlawful mass review program.

The next time you read an ACPO level press release about the hard work of the emergency services, please remember the true thought processes of certain people who, behind the cameras, commit the most vile disservice to those who protect this country.

We ask the simple question … When those who run towards violence aren’t protected for life when they suffer life changing injuries, then is our society broken?