Gareth Morgan

Chief Constable Morgan sends letters to vulnerable pensioners

Chief Constable Morgan sends letters to vulnerable pensioners

Chief Constable Morgan of Staffordshire Police today sent a letter to former police officers, all of whom are disabled, either mentally or physically.

These pensioners have been under review for a considerable amount of time and have to date fully complied with The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 which govern them.

They have been sent this letter by Mr Morgan who has given them a week to comply.

Our advice is that these vulnerable and injured pensioners should politely decline his offer.

 

Morgan_letter

 

Watch out for a more detailed blog on this letter shortly.

Chief Morgan’s Conundrum

Chief Morgan’s Conundrum

“A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”
C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Gareth Morgan, the newly appointed Chief Constable of Staffordshire, who takes up his post on the 19th June, has a problem.

During his tenure as Deputy Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police he will have become well aware that maladministration of police injury pensions leads inevitably to increased costs, litigation and disaffection amongst serving officers. Gareth witnessed how attempts to subvert, twist, or bypass the Regulations governing injury pensions achieved nothing more than the transfer of large amounts of ratepayers’ money into the pockets of a certain Dr Phillip Johnson.

This less than eminent medical practitioner, was paid to carry out reviews on the degree of disablement of former officers who are in receipt of injury pensions. In over three years and forty-six billed days he managed only six for which he was paid £146,000 Avon and Somerset Police Pension Authority (PPA) , which is none other than the single personage of the current Chief Constable, has been forced to make a humiliating u-turn and has announced that the planned mass review programme is abandoned.

The force has no will to attempt any further reviews. So, when Gareth becomes the PPA in Staffordshire, what will he make of that force’s plans to hold a similar unlawful programme of mass reviews? He can’t claim he is not very well aware of the issues, for in November 2013, the College of Policing started a scoping review of forces’ management of Police Medical Appeal Boards (PMAB). Gareth agreed to act as the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for the exercise. Tellingly it was then Chief Constable Mike Cunningham of Staffordshire Police, in his capacity as the Workforce Development Business Area Lead, who for reasons unknown, requested this commission.

The College of Policing soon increased the scope of the review from the original issue of PMABs to the management of police officer ill health retirements and injury on duty assessments, as these areas form the basis of any appeal to a PMAB. And the conclusions Morgan’s College-backed enquiry came to? Given pride of place was the startling figure that appeals against the mistakes made by HR managers and SMPs had cost forces some £4.3 million pounds since 2008. The enquiry revealed that the ill health retirement process is in chaos, with poorly trained personnel performing functions they don’t understand, regularly failing police officers.

It is recognised that these processes are complex and expensive to the force and potentially led to a disservice of officers who have been injured in the line of duty.

Morgan also accepts there have been a number of occasions in recent years when the established practice of police forces, supported by the Home Office, in interpreting the meaning of the 2006 Regulations, has been found to be inconsistent with the true wording of the Regulations!

6 At the time of writing, very few forces are currently engaged in performing
reviews of previous IoD decisions, many having not done so since the Home
Office correspondence in 10 March 2010 following critical case law. The issues
relating to the appropriateness of conducting reviews notwithstanding, the
decision not to review has resulted in a significant degradation of the skill level of those staff members who had previous experience of this work. Many of whom, as a result of ongoing financial cuts to relevant departments, are no longer working for the police service.

The ‘Home Office correspondence’ referred to was a letter from the HO advising that all forces cease reviews, pending a seminal judicial review upcoming in the Administrative Court. That case concerned a former Met officer, Belinda Laws. She won her case. The reviews then being conducted in some forces were unlawful as they were based on the infamous guidance issued by the Home Office in Annex C to its circular 46/2004.

The Home Office later suffered a hammer blow when it had to concede the guidance was unlawful and withdrew it. The Home Office gave a clear indication in a later judicial review case that it was unlikely to want to issue any revised guidance, or indeed, any further guidance whatever concerning injury awards and ill health retirement processes.

Peter Spreadbury, then Head of the Police Pensions and Retirement Policy Section within the Home Office gave a witness statement in the case of Simpson held at Leeds High Court in February 2012. He stated,

‘Should it appear that repeated legal challenges and uncertainty are likely to continue in this area, one possible option is the withdrawal of the relevant guidance and the abandonment of any attempt to give central guidance on the topic.’

Well, legal challenges have continued apace, and uncertainty within HR departments has increased, and the Home Office has withdraw its guidance, and it remains sensibly silent on all matters concerning injury pensions. The ball is firmly in the court of each PPA. They can expect no overt help from the Home Office, though we know that august Department of State sends a representative to meetings of the National Welfare and Engagement Forum. We believe this is more to keep an eye on the rampant idiocy which is displayed there than to try to advise more unlawful attempts to subvert the Regulations.

It is reasonable to assume then that Gareth Morgan is more acquainted than most Chief Officers with the institutional failures of HR departments to properly administer the police injury benefit Regulations.

Gareth also knows first hand of the most vile abuse foisted on vulnerable disabled officers, for it was in Avon and Somerset that the now deceased Dr Reginald Bunting was allowed free rein to practice his sexual perversions on officers and former officers who he was called upon to examine.

Speaking about Operation Hay which investigated the historical abuse he went on record as saying:

“Anyone requiring a police medical examination held on police premises by a police doctor should have had an expectation of being safe. It is clear that the conduct of some of these medical examinations fell well below this standard.~Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Morgan

Wishful thinking on Gareth’s part, for the day after Avon & Somerset decided enough was enough in their abuse of those injured on duty, the Bristol Post reported that more victims have come forward:

Investigation into pervert doctor continue as more victims come forward

The police investigation into a pervert Bristol doctor is being continued as more potential victims have come forward. Dr Reginald Bunting was said to have been ‘inappropriate’ towards 52 police recruits and staff while he worked for Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Investigations into the doctor’s behaviour and complaints made about him ended this year after a two-year probe.

So, Gareth Morgan’s problem as he takes up his new post is this: he now has a choice to make. Does his follow the lead of his former boss in Avon and Somerset, Chief Constable Andy Marsh and halt the reviews, or does he continue to zealously pursue Staffordshire’s review program as if nothing has happened?

Will we see Morgan fall back on repeating the tired and empty mantra in respect of reviews where various administrators have falsely claimed the Regulations say they “shall“ conduct reviews, or that they are “obliged to review“ as they have “a positive duty” to review? Will Morgan chose to ignore the looming disaster that Staffordshire’s proposed mass review programme will bring? Will he chose to ignore all the evidence which proves most, if not all, forces are utterly incapable of administering police injury pensions within the law?

To add to his problem he has to take ownership of the ill-judged and illegal Staffordshire 2008 “agreement“ which favoured certain IOD pensioners at the expense of others. He will have a tangled mess to attempt unravelling now that Staffordshire’s IOD pensioners have realised the agreement was not worth the paper it was written on. Staffordshire will have to deal with that before it could even contemplate holding any reviews – unless of course Gareth has the stomach for a costly round of appeals and trips to the Administrative Court.

We hope that new Chief Constable Gareth Morgan will look back on his time with Avon and Somerset and reflect on the sour sans-apology June 12th letter to all IOD pensioners from Julian Kern on behalf of Avon & Somerset Police Pension Authority cancelling what he called the “automatic reviews“.

Of course the term “automatic review” is an euphemism for holding reviews only for the purpose of discovering whether there has been substantial alteration in degree of disablement, without any pre-consideration as to whether the degree of the pensioners disablement has altered. This, as regular readers of these blogs will know, is not a lawful process. A review held without first deciding there has been a suitable interval since the previous decision on degree of disablement is unlawful. A review held without any individual consideration of individual circumstances is unlawful. A review held with a view to saving money is unlawful.

The Regulations prohibit anything which might be called an ‘automatic review’. The fact that Kern used this phrase, in what we sincerely hope will be the last letter he is allowed to pen for Avon and Somerset Police Pension Authority, sums up all we need to know about the sheer incompetence of the man. He knows nothing about the Regulations.

We will touch in later blogs about Kern’s reference to suspension of reviews pending future legislation or Home Office guidance but suffice to say IODPA is confident there will be no retrospective legislation, nor will the Home Office ever offer any more central guidance.

Avon and Somerset’s climb-down suspension of all reviews sends a strong signal to Staffordshire, and the other few forces which are still mistakenly in thrall to the idea that reviews can save them money. It also tells anyone who cares to listen that the hugely ignorant and dangerous guidance issued by Nicholas Wirz via the the National Wellbeing and Engagement Forum is a poisoned chalice.

IODPA wishes Mr Morgan well in his new role in Staffordshire. We hope that once he is his own boss, free of the shackles of being merely the number two he was in Avon and Somerset, that he will make some sensible decisions and not only halt the proposed mass review programme, but set about clearing up the historic mess that is the administration of police injury pensions in that area.

Newsflash: Avon & Somerset Stops Reviews

Newsflash:  Avon & Somerset Stops Reviews

All injury on duty pensioners in Avon & Somerset have today received a letter from the, apparently outgoing, director of resources Julian Kern.  The letter says:

After careful consideration, the Avon and Somerset Police Pension Authority has decided not to progress with their automatic review process of injury on duty awards.

This is consistent with a number of other forces and we will not recommence these reviews until such time as there is a change in legislation and guidance from the Home Office.

The Police Pension Authority will however continue to support and facilitate any reviews requested by a pensioner (in accordance with the relevant statutory framework) to enable injury on duty awards to be adjusted to reflect any change to the degree of disablement, or relevant earnings capacity in accordance with regulations.

We understand that your review may already be in progress but have decided to stop these with immediate effect unless you advise us that you wish the review to continue. If this is the case you can contact us via email using the following email address: IODReviews@avonandsomerset.police.uk .
Yours sincerely
Julian Kern
CFO and Director of Resources

For three long years IODPA as been shouting about the illegality of the process conducted by this force as well Nottinghamshire, Merseyside, Northumbria and more recently Staffordshire.  It seems A&S have finally worked out that they could never be successful in buying a new vehicle fleet to the expense of those injured on duty and at last it has dawned on them that their legal costs would just keep on mounting.

Note that A&S do not admit having done anything wrong.

Gareth Morgan was the DCC of Avon & Somerset.  He has recently been appointed as the Chief Constable of Staffordshire.  We challenge Staffordshire to follow the lead of A&S and send out a similar letter.

We will continue to place pressure on all the above forces to make them comply with the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

A and S stop review letter

 

Everlasting Anxiety

Everlasting Anxiety

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
Anaïs Nin

It seems that those who oversee the administration of injury awards in Staffordshire Police have rather a special collection of ineptness.  Quite a feat to combine the malevolence of Northumbria with the idiocy of Avon & Somerset.

For a force that officially signed a contract and abandoned reviews in 2008, the errors and illegalities in the letter they have sent out to all those retired with an injury award is exceedingly far beyond any, even the twisted mind, could conjure up.

We’ve published the missive in full at the end of this post.

Rather than pointing out the obvious conflict this letter has with the Regulations and case law – such as the invented duty that the 2015 Police Pension Regulations* forces them to do this (!)  and the continual use of the word “reassessment“, today we are going to talk about this paragraph:

This letter is just to inform you of the reassessment programme. Whilst I acknowledge this may cause you some anxiety, I regret that at this point in time I am unable to enter into correspondence with you about your personal circumstances. You will be written to again directly in due course when your injury pension comes up for review. The process is expected to take at least eighteen months, so it may be some time before you are written to again about this.

*(Very naughty Staffordshire!  A blatant lie!  In fact these Regulations has no implications on injury awards as they only refer to the Career Average Revalued Earnings Scheme (CARE) scheme and the lower/enhanced tier only applicable to those retired on this 2015 pension scheme – the PIBR 2006 Regulations are the only regulations that concern injury on duty awards)

Wow!  Sending an unsolicited letter, that they know (or don’t care perhaps out of complete indifference) will cause or manifest an existing diagnosis of a mental health illness, to a cohort of disabled individuals – some with severe PTSD, all with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – and then sign-off by saying that they will happily prolong the assault for up to 18 months….

Just Wow!… What cave has Staffordshire been living in for the past five years?

The Department of Work and Pensions received a drubbing in the Court of Appeal back in 2013.  Court judges upheld a decision that the ATOS assessments for sickness and disability benefits discriminate against people with mental health conditions.  This followed an earlier decision by the Upper Tribunal that the Work Capability Assessment – the notorious computer based test which has led to hundreds of thousands of claimants declared ‘fit for work’ – substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems.

The Appeal Court said:

Tribunal was satisfied that the difficulties faced by [mental health patients] placed them at a substantial disadvantage when compared with other disabled persons who do not experience mental health problems

The judges found that:

  1. In my judgment, therefore, the Tribunal properly identified relevant disadvantages in this case as potentially relating both to the actual determination or outcome itself, and to the process leading up to it.

So to speak the obvious; who has Staffordshire seen fit to sent a mass mailing list to, warning the recipient that they will spend the next 18 months in purgatory whilst knowing full well that what they intend to do will cause them harm?

Rhetorical answer: Only to members of the public with both physical and mental illness, who are permanently disabled  and who are proportionally certain to have many of the mental health disorders that are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.

Bizarrely this was sent out to even the people they have unilaterally decided not to review such as those band ones and those over 72.

Even those with a terminal illness recieved this letter. Whilst it’s excellent that they won’t be further victimised whilst end of life, but why stress them with irrelevance? – an example why mass mailshots to those with a protected characteristic without due public sector equality duty compliance is unlawful.

Though we are experienced in the dark-arts of those who administer injury awards, IODPA is still perpetually amazed that some police forces think those that get injured and permanently disabled on duty have no rights.

Avon & Somersent DCC Gareth Morgan may be thinking that becoming this force’s chief may not be a wise career move after all!

injury review intent 20042017_Redacted
injury review intent 20042017_Redacted 2

 

 

 

 

 

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...