Injury On duty Award

Bad Medicine

Bad Medicine

“Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.”

“Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.”

The College of Policing released a report in 2015 concerning an inquiry it arranged into the Injury on Duty process. This post will discuss how that report revealed issues concerning the Occupational Health clinicians who are used by forces in the role of ‘duly qualified medical practitioners‘ as required by the Regulations which govern police injury pensions.

Each of the quotes used below are excerpts from the College’s report.

Before I begin, I need to mention the structure of the College.

It is perhaps not quite the independent seat of learning and academic rigour which one might naturally expect of anything calling itself a ‘college’. It is currently a private limited company, with but one shareholder, who is the Home Secretary. It’s own web site tells us that,

As the College is currently a company limited by guarantee, as well as an Arm’s Length Body of the Home Office, all members of the Board are Company Directors.

In plain language, the College is the Home Office pretending to be an academic institution.

Being arm’s length is a bit like the Mafia setting up apparently legitimate shell companies to launder its money and to give the appearance of respectability. With the Home Office it is not dirty money which needs to be laundered, but dirty, disrespectful ideas which seek to undermine the law of the land.

Just as the College is not quite what it would like us to think it is, much the same sort of misdirection applies to the odd little off-shoot of the medical profession known as Occupational Health.

By some self-publicising accounts Occupation Health is a, ‘multi-disciplinary approach to developing and ensuring compliance with safe working practices, and maintaining the health and well-being of those employed in a particular occupation or workplace’.

Phew. Quite a mouthful.  One has to wonder quite what that has to do with regards to administration of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations. Yet the situation is that forces have been persuaded to accept that any SMP must hold a minimum qualification in occupational health.

Occupational Health clinicians like to get people back to work, or help prevent them getting injured or ill in the first place. That is their raison d’etre. Notwithstanding that a police officer is not an employee (they are holders of office), once medically retired a former officer injured on duty is no longer employed in any sense of the word – they are retired via incapacity – so it is hard to see quite what value an occupational health clinician can bring to the area of police injury pensions.

Injury on Duty awards are governed by Regulations, which mention not a single word about duly qualified medical practitioners needing to have a qualification in occupational health. All that the Regulations require is the selected medic is actually qualified to practice – which means they must be registered with the GMC.

So, how is it that IOD pensioners are now faced with having to be assessed by medics whose chosen ‘specialisation’ has effectively removed most of them from the actual day-to-day practice of ‘real’ doctoring? The answer is that some few years ago, the now-defunct Police Negotiating Board, whose remit was to negotiate the details of pay and conditions for serving police officers, strangely decided to issue a joint circular, with the Home Office, in which it agreed that all ‘duly qualified medical practitioners’ who were to make decisions under the Regulations should hold a minimum qualification in occupational health.

The effect of this has been to narrow the pool of duly qualified medical practitioners who might work as ‘selected medical practitioners’ (SMPs) down from the approximately 236,000 doctors who are licensed to practice medicine in the UK, to a measly handful of doctors who have bothered to qualify for what most mainstream doctors regard as the utterly irrelevant specialisation of occupational health.

The small number of potential doctors who can be selected by a police pension authority has been further diminished by the interference of the National Attendance Management Forum which has seen fit to produce a list of doctors it claims ‘have shown an interest in’ working as SMPs. This is, of course, typical new-speak meaning that these doctors are the sort who are either gullible enough or corrupt enough to see the Regulations as no more than a general guide which can be ignored.

Disabled former officers have been powerless to prevent the erosion of the role of what was intended by the Regulations to be performed by independent, experienced medical professionals. Instead, they now face the prospect of the level of their pension income being in the dubious hands of doctors who are on the very bottom tier of the medical profession, and who have shown themselves to be variously incompetent, corrupt or ignorant of what the Regulations require of them.

IODPA has seen examples of SMPs knowing full well that a former officer is a 100% band 4 but still, with perverse logic, and directly contrary to the Regulations, give the retiree a figure of 85% in order to provide some forlorn future ‘hope’ of a recovery to the disabled person. Similarly, SMPs have looked to the future and speculated about what jobs a retiree may be able to do – thus completely missing the point that an assessment of degree of disablement is supposed to be based the extent the disabling effects of duty injury have – past tense – had on the individual’s capacity to work. In other perversions, SMPs ‘decide’ that an individual is, say, 50% disabled, only for some HR pen-pusher with no medical qualifications take a short list of wages which might be earned, compare them to either the former police salary earned, or some nominal figure plucked from the data on national earnings produced by the Office of National Statistics, and then – wait for it – take one from the other to determine a ‘degree of disablement’ then take the 50% off the resultant figure.

This sort of manipulation is without a doubt completely unlawful. IODPA gives fair warning to HR managers, SMPs and Chief Constables that this issue will be dealt with in the High Court in due course.

Given that considerable doubt has been cast on the professional competence of SMPs, on their independence, and on the unwarranted and illegal interference with their decisions by HR personnel, any reasonable police pension authority would cease the practice of wage comparison at once. Of course, we at IODPA know full well that police pension authorities will do what they always do and deny there is anything wrong.

Just as occupational health qualifications have no part to play in the role of SMP so is reason, common sense and decency absent from the small number of Chief Constables who continue to allow their wayward HR managers to abuse disabled former officers and stick two fingers up to the Regulations.

We need now to return to the inquiry which the College of Policing completed, to get a glimpse of the full, disturbing picture of the shambles that is the administration of police injury pensions.

Shockingly, the College admits that that some forces take delight in the subversion of the Regulatory process by influencing the SMP. Moreover some SMPs take delight in being influenced to do the subversion – what better way to keep the paymaster happy!

In the event of incidents of force subversion of the regulatory process, considering SMPs are on the whole employees of occupational health providers working under contract with the force, there is a clear conflict of interest for the companies in question in the event that a SMP raised concerns. – paragraph 19.10

That is no surprise to us. Add together a force willing to subvert a lawful process with a SMP whose occupational health mindset is such that they only sees their role as being to get someone back to work and you have a rather a monstrous double-sided conflict of interest.

The College reveals there is little attraction in working as a SMP.

In addition to this there is a general perception articulated by a number of clinicians who engage with this review that the police service is not a desirable employer. At the heart of this issue appears to be concerns over vulnerability to baseless complaints, or threats of complaints, by officers or former officers, to the GMC in order to obtain more favourable pension settlements. Other SMPs report perceived pressure from management to obstruct the process and influence decisions – paragraph 19.7

It is the involvement of and bastardisation of ‘guidance’ by the National Attendance Management Forum, and the fact that it has produced a list of doctors, and companies providing doctors who are willing to act as SMPs that has meant a small pool of lowly occupational health clinicians now have a monopoly. The NAMF has its set list of preferred SMPs – a list that, we repeat, has had the consequence of further stifling the available pool of competent clinicians. SMPs are now given work just because they have been working as SMPs and not because their judgements are sound.

Otherwise excellent doctors are either barred from becoming SMPs or see the role as beneath them, and dangerous to their professional reputation to boot.

Many forces are experiencing increasing difficulty in identifying suitable doctors to perform this role. The role of the SMP is a specialist one and at the time of writing the available resource is limited. Historically, when the relevant regulations were written, many SMPs worked as Force Medical Advisors (FMA) in other forces. However ongoing changes to occupational health delivery has resulted in the vast majority of forces now obtaining clinicians from private companies with no prior background of the police service.- paragraph 19.3


One of the problems relating to the difficulties in obtaining suitable doctors as SMPs is cost. Whilst SMPs can represent a significant cost resource to Forces, SMP work is relatively poorly paid compared to other roles clinicians can obtain both in the field of occupational medicine and in the private sector. In addition to this, the General Medical Council (GMC), in their 2014 edition of our annual ‘state of medical education and practice’ report, recognises the decline in the number of doctors choosing to go into occupational medicine and reports that occupational health has more doctors aged over 50 than any other speciality. – paragraph 19.5

On one hand the College is saying there is a shortage of SMPs and on another they say they are underpaid. Market forces do not work this way. A rare resource can charge an inflated amount; what the College fails to report is that a cabal of SMPs have a monopoly and all the available work is taken by a small number of well-paid ‘guns for hire’.  We know, for example, of one SMP who was paid over £45,000 for conducting fewer than a dozen reviews. These ‘established’ names suffocate competition and prevent new blood from entering the profession.

We have to also comment that it seems the College is saying that becoming a SMP is really the last chance saloon for occupational health clinicians who have failed to make a living elsewhere.

The situation, according to the College, is that these rather pathetic failures are thrown in the deep end when they take on the role of SMP.

There is at present no recognised training or qualification for Force Medical Advisors (FMA) attempting to manage these complex issues, or for SMPs, who must make statutory, quasi-judicial decisions.- paragraph 15.3

It is not the Regulations which are complex. In fact, as statutory instruments go, they are concise and clear. The esoteric fog only exists because the police pension authorities have, in the words of the College, repeatedly attempted to subvert the process. It has fallen to the judiciary to undo the damage the Home Office and individual forces inflict on the Regulation’s interpretation.

Perhaps the raw truth is more like the College has heard forces moan to them that they are finding it difficult to undermine the Regulations. That, having dreamed up a cunning plan to control the supply of doctors who can act in the role of SMP, some forces now find they have contracted people who are so useless as to not even be capable of perverting the Regulations convincingly.

The PNB guidance states that in order to perform the role of a SMP a doctor must be competently trained to effectively assess a police officer’s medical condition and disability. However the role of the SMP also requires them to understanding the complex regulations and case law and make arbitrations on evidence. These requirements lie outside the normal skill set of a professional clinician and are more associated with the role of a legal professional. – paragraph 15.4

Again the College is seeking to excuse the poor administration of Injury Awards by repeatedly proclaiming that the Regulations are complex – conveniently forgetting that it is those who administer the Regulations who have forced the wealth of case law into existence as a result of their inability to do things right.

Any competent holder of a medical degree will take huge offence at the College’s assertion that making decisions based on arbitrations of evidence is beyond their skill-set. Given the regulatory demands of any aspect of the medical profession such understanding is surely a core skill.

To date there are limited training opportunities available and no centrally accredited SMP qualification. Individual SMPs are therefore reliant on their experience of the work, personal endeavour and any ad hoc training they have been given by their employers. – paragraph 15.5

The Regulations in their current form have been in existence since 1987. Almost 30 years have passed and the College brazenly declares that there is still no gold-standard to measure the competency of a SMP.

Again the College conveniently forgets that the current chaos of poor and shady SMPs had its birth in Home Office circular 46/2004 which contained guidance from the Home Office which was an unlawful carte blanche attack on the Regulations. It took a courageous IOD pensioner to drag the Home Office to the very door of the High Court before the Home Office caved in and accepted the guidance was unlawful and agreed to withdraw it.

The guidance has been erased but the perversions of the Regulations continue, with some forces inventing ever more complex ways of manipulation so as to produce decisions which reduce the amount of pension paid.

It is no wonder that even decent SMPs are hopelessly confused or find their genuine efforts to apply the Regulations properly are frustrated.

The review has found little to no evidence of the private companies who are contracted by forces to provide both occupational health provisions and SMPs providing formal training for SMPs. Furthermore it is questionable whether consideration of training was included in tendering when obtaining SMPs through occupational health companies. – paragraph 15.9

Even the business school mantra of, ‘If in doubt outsource it’ is called into question by the College. By hiring a company to provide a SMP a police pension authority will lose any in-house experience but at least they can blame a private company when it all goes wrong. Or not. The private companies become bigger and bigger and as they do so they become less fit for purpose. The College fails to address why all this public money is given to occupational health companies who fail to evidence competency in the tendering process.

So, where is all this going? What actually lays behind the Home Office encouraging the College to make its enquiry? Why is the Home Office apparently content so see exposed so many failures by forces, their HR departments and SMPs?

Bear in mind when pondering this apparent own goal that the College is an arm’s length body of the Home Office. The College is the Home Office.

The report contains a blatant clue as to what the Home Office hopes to achieve. It raises the spectre of complaints against SMPs and it puts forward the suggestion that, when performing their roles under the Regulations, SMPs should have immunity from GMC standards.

It is noted that in separate correspondence to the Home Office representations have been made to suggest judicial exclusion for the role of the SMP. Furthermore legal opinion obtained as part of this review suggests that a medical authority appointed under the Regulations may be covered by the doctrine of
judicial privilege.- paragraph 19.2

Who made these ‘representations’ and what motivated them being made? It is an astounding suggestion – that doctors which the Regulations require do nothing more complicated or demanding than make independent medical assessments and decisions should need to be elevated to the status of a Crown Court Judge.

This immunity is contrary to the guidance of the GMC who state …


The first duty of a doctor registered with the GMC is to
make the care of their patient their first concern. The
term ‘patient’ in this guidance also refers to employees,
clients, athletes and anyone else whose personal
information you hold or have access to, whether or not
you care for them in a traditional therapeutic
relationship. – Section 2

A SMP is always a medical doctor first and therefore is answerable to the GMC. Under the Regulations their role is primarily medical in nature and purpose. A SMP must comply with the Regulations. Yes, decisions a SMP makes form part of a quasi-judicial process, but the College is in error when it suggests the SMP should become a judicial figure, for that element and responsibility is already present and rests with the office of police pension authority.

The report is nothing more that a sham. It is not the independent, impartial, academically rigorous enquiry it purports to be. As a dissertation it would be torn apart, for its entire purpose is to provide support for an idea. It is an exercise in propaganda.

Appendix D of the report contains the ugly truth of the Home Office’s purpose. The Home Office likes appendices. It was appendix C to Home Office circular 46/2004 which tried to encourage forces to act unlawfully. Here we have yet another appendix intent on much the same objective.

Appendix D offers a vision of a future arrangement when Regional Centres manage all aspects of the administration of injury awards. Forces, and SMPs, will completely lose the independence of thought and action which the Regulations are intended to ensure. The Home Office will have recreated the infamous Volksgerichtshof, the ‘people’s courts’ of the Third Reich, which were intended to provide that regime with an apparently lawful way of side-stepping the inconvenience of an independent judiciary.

Various benefits to such an arrangement are touted, but the plain truth is that if regional centres are created then they will be controlled entirely by the Home Office, no doubt through another shell company – sorry, an arm’s length body – which will ensure that all doctors hired as SMPs are compliant, corrupt and whose purpose will be to subvert the Regulations to the very great detriment of the brave men and women who were disabled in the line of duty.


A Suitable Interval is not Random

A Suitable Interval is not Random

“Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.”
John von Neumann

It seems Avon & Somerset Human Remains Department just can not help themselves.  To select further IODs for review they are going to use a random number generator.

This is a quote from local NARPO’s report on the IOD Liaison Group Meeting 17th December 2015

8 more claimants have been chosen using an EXCEL random picker programme and letters should be sent out in January 2016 asking for them to engage in the process. If you receive such a letter and are a member of NARPO Bristol Branch, we would like to know, please contact me through […] the branch secretary. If you require it we can offer advice or assistance with the process.

Let’s ignore the unsavoury and nonfactual word ‘claimants‘ used to describe those with an injury on duty award  for a minute and focus on the words ‘random picker’.

No. It’s  not ‘Lancelot’, the mechanical soupedup tombola that the National Lottery uses, but a computer program.  A computer program cobbled together in a Heath Robinson manner using Microsoft Excel.

Does anyone spot the major flaw here?

Is their mistake that the numbers generated by Excel are not truly random, but pseudo-random?  This is the output of program code that churns out numbers that appear to be random. Excel RAND’s output is only  a simulation of a truly random process. Chance can not be programmed.  That is why lottery providers use gravity pick or air mix mechanical machines. These 2 machine types have  things in common.  They are designed and proven using statistical analysis to produce random combinations of numbers.

Nope.  Although correct, the above isn’t their ‘pig in the poke‘.  They fail to grasp the  mistake magnitude of their cunning ‘brainwave’.

The elephant in the room is that a suitable interval is not and can never be random.  The Scoffield report dictates:

There should be a move away from automatic review for all cases at any fixed interval set in policy

A truly random selection would mean it is possible for a single former officer to reviewed consecutively.    As Murphy’s Law wisely says, what-ever can happen will happen if there is enough trials.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps this supposed ‘random selection’ performed  by A&S means that they have determined that everyone should be automatically reviewed and they are just randomising the order.

That doesn’t fit in with the interpretation of the Regulations either.  An eminent Queen’s Counsel has determined an automatic review for all cases is not appropriate and reviewing everyone ‘randomly’ is just that – an automatic review based on ‘policy’.

A selection of any IOD for any review has to be made based on the individual.  Some should never be reviewed.  Time itself is not the determiner of a suitable interval – the circumstances of the individual  and the detail recorded on the last final decision determines whether any interval is suitable.

But A&S has to wrongly rely on Excel and their fallacy of random selection because they have lost occupational health records and they can not read the handwriting of the doctor notes made in the records they do have.  So they are unable to determine a true suitable interval. That is their problem – their faults should not and can not be passed on to a former officer.

IODPA will look forward to reading the future judicial review transcript where it is mentioned that the plaintiff was selected by a computer program and not on the medical merits on whether it was suitable to review.

Any letter sent by A&S to any individual has to be answered with a curt:

“Why me? Why Now?”.

If the answer from them is because ‘our Excel workbook’ says you’ve won the review lottery, then you can laugh your way to legal representation.

On a side note – IODPA wonders about the Data Protection Act and the use of names in a tool designed for pseudo-random selection.  Perhaps Subject Access Requests should be made to determine if a person’s name exists on their list.

This DPA principle seems to suggest it is not right to use personal data in a list to unlawfully select someone for the wrong reason:

Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.






Some PMAB Statistics

Some PMAB Statistics

“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
Benjamin Disraeli

A (probably false) attribution to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain.  This comment was never valid. At least not in the direct meaning of the words. It is just a sarcastic statement. It’s true meaning is that it is very dishonourable to present statistical “facts” to convince others that are not aware of the context in what the statistic was derived.

Anyway, always suckers for all things with numbers, we have analysed the data published by the Home Office.  This data is a summary of the number of Police Medical Appeal Boards heard (not cancelled or withdrawn) by forces between November 2008 and October 2014 – so over a 6 year period.

PMABs heard

The above chart shows the number of PMABs by forces over the past 6 years.  In the spirit of Mark Twain it fails to put the count in context though.  You could look at it and pick-out who you think are the nasty Police Pension Authorities, those that are the main offenders of abusing their former officers; but without plotting the number of officers in each force you can’t tell if the PMABs that are heard are ‘as expected’ by a force of that size.

‘Expected’ is a bit of a loaded term – some forces have never had a PMAB so it could be argued that the expected number should be 0.  We live in an imperfect world though, and ‘expected’ in this sense means compared to its peers.

Anyway, moving on: is The Met, with over 70 PMAB hearings, an outlier perhaps due to its size?  Perhaps.

It does give you an idea of some of the possible culprits when you can clearly see…

  • Northumbria (the lair of Solicitor  Nicholas ‘IOD hater General’ Wirz),
  • West and North Yorkshire,
  • West Midlands (home of the National Attendance Management Forum),
  • Nottinghamshire,
  • South Wales

…up in the top tier.  These are the  forces you perhaps don’t want to be medically retired from if you are after a just decision.

Alternatively, Hertfordshire, Cumbria, Northamptonshire and Suffolk seem to do quite well in not forcing their injured former officers to seek appeals.

Now lets look at how everything compares by adding an extra variable – the number of police officers in each force.


The blue line is the number of PMABs expected by a force of any particular size over a 6 year period (remember that ‘expected’ is in relation to a peer group comparison and is not an ideal).

The grey boundary is the margin of error.  The points are the actual PMABs counts plotted by the number of officers.  For simplicity, in the above, the PMAB counts for each of the old Scottish forces have been combined and the relative point relates to the number of current  serving officers in Police Scotland (the exact point is the grey cross slap-bang  in the middle and within the grey boundary).

Any point above the grey boundary is an extremely zealous and nasty Police Pension Authority.  The grey crosses are OK insomuch that their PMAB numbers are roughly what is expected, hence those point markers that are not grey  crosses are not OK!  In other words, here you can see members of the nasty party in glorious techi-colour:

Derbyshire (blue circle),

North Yorkshire (orange cross),

Northumbria (green diamond),

Nottinghamshire (red square),

South Wales (purple inverse triangle),

West Midlands (brown triangle) and

West Yorkshire (pink circle).

These are all the forces who are infamous in their drive to push and bully their IODs into PMAB, the Pension Ombudsman and Judicial Review.

Finally lets see how many cases are being heard by a PMAB panels over time.

PMAB by year

Quite a reduction isn’t it?  In 13/14 there was just a third of PMABs compared to the number heard in 08/09.  This shows quite clearly that Police Pension Authorities have blatantly targeted IODs and it is only the result of Judicial Reviews, Pension Ombudsman decision and the Scoffield report that their ‘wings’ have been clipped. They still try it on but on a lesser scale – eager to bully but not to force another Judicial Review.  The Regulations have not changed so why the variation between forces and the variation over time!  Easily answered:  Police Pension Authorities think they are a law unto themselves.

There is no excuse for this – there should be uniformity and consistency in decisions and no single force (or group of forces) should be allowed to unilaterally undermine statutory legislation that is the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

Data Analysed in RStudio

Lost in Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Death by ice shark,” Bulpitt replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr X

Mr X

“All cruelty springs from weakness.” -Seneca”
Clarissa Wild, Mr. X


If ever you think your former police service has your best intentions at heart when they are minded to ‘review’ your injury pension, then please consider the case of Mr X.

Mr X is a IOD pensioner who was retired from The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Policing is tough over there, but the Regulations concerning Injury on Duty awards across the Irish sea are essentially identical to those in and England & Wales.

Heed the wise words of the Pension Ombudsman:

Those cases have been concerned with the Police Injury Benefit Regulations for England and Wales, but the Northern Ireland Regulations mirror these and, therefore, the same principles can be expected to apply.”

Take note that the horrendous saga of maladministration we recount is not an outlier – similar injustice is happening now to dozens of former officers across the country and has the potential to envelope completely the lives of any person put under ‘review’.

Think on this if you are a Federation Rep or a SMP who is reading these words, perhaps tutting to yourself and thinking that we here at IODPA have the wrong end of the stick; that we are against the ‘system’ and ruining everything for every ‘legitimate IOD’.

Yes, that’s how too many Fed think:

‘play along to get along’;

‘don’t rock the boat’;

‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’;

‘You’ve had a good innings’;

‘Just give the doctor whatever he wants’ .

We don’t know which is worse, these pathetic cringing words of advice, or the more usual absence of any useful advice at all.

Well, Fed Reps,SMPs and all IOD pensioners, let us tell you about the 6 years and counting of legal hell suffered by Mr X just because he has an IOD award? Something similar is what all IOD pensioners risk facing if ever their HR Department comes calling with the intent of reviewing their injury pension.

PO-7548 1 Ombudsman’s Determination

Applicant Mr X Scheme Police Injury Benefit Scheme (Northern Ireland) Respondent(s) Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB)

Read the determination yourself here.

Mr X was retired in 1999.  His degree of disablement has been reviewed in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012.  Mr X has needed to complain about gross maladministration to the Pension Ombudsman 3 times and has had determinations made in his favour three times – in April 2013, April 2014 and September 2015.

It is horrific that any police pension authority could get things atrociously wrong again and again.

There is no such thing as a benign review – it rips people apart.

Consider for a moment, if you will, how this man has had what should have been a peaceful retirement shattered.  Over the past 16 years he has been summoned again and again to dance to the tune of the HR department only to be rolled over again and again by the unfeeling, deeply flawed machine of bureaucracy.

Shamefully, he has had to find the strength all by himself, alone, unaided, to undo the wrong visited upon him.  This struggle dominated his days and eroded what remained of his health.

We at IODPA reflect with sorrow that Mr X is a rarity. Very few IOD pensioners have the strength, determination and knowledge to make and follow through any sort of complaint. Alarmingly, we believe that the vast majority of IOD pensioners do not even realise there has been maladministration. Mr X is not a rarity in that respect. He is just one example of the victimisation and maltreatment – we would call it abuse – of former officers who were injured in the line of duty.

The reviews Mr X faced in 2009 and 2012 were found by the Pensions Ombudsman to have been unsound and Mr X was restored to the banding he was on in 2007.

In 2014 Mr X met the SMP, a Dr ‘D’, who apologised to Mr X for the errors the doctor had made and subsequently wrote to the police pension authority to state that in 2011 he had determined that Mr X was 100% disabled in relation to earning capacity.  Dr D said no apportionment should have been applied for either musculoskeletal problems or constitutional psychological factors.

In May 2014 Mr X then wrote to the police pension authority to demand a Regulatory reconsideration process to undo the errors.  His award has been bounced down and up but it has not been backdated for the periods he was unlawfully reduced. The money unlawfully taken from him had not been repaid. This person has been blighted by years of unlawful guff, things written about him, occupation health records appended to with ‘this and that’ of things that should be excluded and so  Mr X wanted to wipe the slate clean.  All those years wasted when he should have been on the correct banding from 2010 – 3 years after the 2007 review as scheduled by the police pension authority.

Now we get into the bizarre world of legal services and dark recess of the minds of those employed in HR departments.  The application of Mr X for a reconsideration was refused on the grounds that the Northern Ireland Police Board (NIPB) viewed that as the Pension Ombudsman had set aside or quashed the 2009 and 2012 decision there was nothing to reconsider and that Mr X should just have another review !

Do you detect a position of attrition here?  A strategy of belligerent attempts to win by wearing down the IOD to the point of collapse.  Delay, obfuscate and confuse rather than just do the right thing.  Even after the stages of the internal dispute resolution procedures, the NIPB repeatedly sought to avoid the opportunity to redeem itself.

Mr X can no more think another review will be performed without error than look out his window and see pink elephants taking to the skies.  The best thing for the NIPB would had been to allow Dr D to perform a reconsideration and to give Mr X the back dated payments he deserves.  But no – it took a third finding by the Pension Ombudsman to force the NIPB to begrudgingly start to do the right thing.

This is what a review can do to a person.  For every Fed Rep or NARPO Rep who thinks their force is kind and benevolent to their IODs, they need to read the case of Mr X.  Any IOD, anywhere, can find themselves caught up in the same unending nightmare.

Let’s not forget the large question mark which hovers over the matter of why Mr X has been reviewed so frequently since 1999.  Is he a criminal who has to attend meetings with his probation officer?  Does someone think he does not deserve his pension? Is he secretly earning a vast salary working for an International conglomerate? No. None of these things. He spends his days bravely trying to deal with his disability. So why is he treated like a criminal or an unworthy pauper petitioner to be hauled in to account for his sinful way of life to the local Watch Committee?

Mr X understandably has no confidence now in any review procedure. Thanks only to his determination and to the Pension Ombudsman he will now have his reconsideration.

After this he should be left alone to live his life in peace.

We sincerely hope that will be the case.


College of Policing Inquiry ends with damning assessment of Injury Award system

College of Policing Inquiry ends with damning assessment of Injury Award system
The College of Policing reports that there is widespread lack of expertise regarding the police injury pension Regulations. We believe that injured on duty pensioners know more about the Regulations than those who are supposed to apply them. We understand there is also widespread interference by medically unqualified staff in the process of deciding the degree of former officers’ disablement. There is now a complete lack of trust that injury pensions are being managed lawfully.

“Toxic people will pollute everything around them. Don’t hesitate. Fumigate.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

An award for life in compensation for an injury sustained has become a ruination of a thing.  Those who are in receipt of injury pensions are drained of life and hope, having suffered the double blow of being injured and then being further assaulted by the tribulations imposed on them by the abuses of management and the warped cogs of Human Resources churning out their unfeeling, rusty, circular machinations.

The Facebook page of IODPA has numerous stories from those with an IOD award of despair, loss of hope, rejection from the norms of society, isolation, legitimate paranoia – alienation from life just because of the misfortune of an event that could have happened to anyone. If that was not enough suffering, they are then treated as persona non grata by certain functionaries within the force who, bearing an unfathomable but odious grudge, have amply displayed their reluctance to properly administer injury pensions.

Sometimes this torture is drawn out for years only for the same apparatchiks – those concerned with warped procedural incorrectness at the expense of people’s needs – to re-enter and further damage the lives of people who have been trying to desperately rebuild their world.

This hasn’t just happened overnight.  The subversion has been deliberate but avoidable and it is shameful that The College of Policing recognises the extent of the damage but ignores the question of why it has been allowed to happen.  Its recent report into Injury on Duty process treats the extent of damage as just ‘one of those things’. That it has happened, is, according to the College, perhaps a matter of some mild regret, but the situation is otherwise unremarkable and was apparently unavoidable.  The hindsight of the college has ignored that truth that senior personnel have set in motion the sequence of events with deliberation.  This state of affairs is truly the fruit of their labour.

Reading between the lines of the report it is easy to see that it is no more than a vehicle to further justify the aims of certain ill-intentioned people to create regionally controlled and directed administration of police injury pensions. All in a good cause – of course. To help ensure consistency. The truth, we suspect, is to ensure that the Regulations are manipulated and abused consistently by all forces instead of just a few.

College of Policing Review of PMAB IHR IoD FINAL.PDF

Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations. Both forces and staff associations report difficulties managing these issues due to key personal leaving the organisation or being absent for short periods due to sickness or prolonged periods of leave.

“Many forces are struggling” . . . what about those unfortunates suffering from the permanent effects of a duty injury who have to struggle to deal with the admittedly inexperienced and direction-less ‘key personnel’?  The College of Policing”s report does not reflect that it is mismanagement of resources, poor recruitment policies in respect of senior HR staff, and bad leadership that is the cause.  A lifetime with an injury pension can be made toxic because of the incompetence of a single poorly trained HR manager.

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 decision NOT to review! The College openly now accepts something we have long known and which some forces have long denied: that the decision to review is discretionary and is not the often touted absolute power which commands everyone with an award has be dragged over the coals for a review every 2 years.  Forces can’t claim they have a duty to review when it is evidential that they have habitually not held reviews. They can’t have it both ways.

There is no specific training available to the FMAs and it is recognised that the quality of the SMP decision will be very much dependant on the information provided by the FMA and force occupational health.

What are they on about?  The decision of the SMP is purely a factual medical decision, which the SMP as a doctor who, by law, must be ‘duly qualified’ to make. The SMPs decision is based on the consideration of substantial change since the last decision. That decision rests on the SMPs assessment of the pensioner’s medical condition.

Why should any submission from the occupational health unit have any relevance to a matter that does not concern them? The SMP is the decision-maker, not Occupational Health or HR. The only information which the SMP need be supplied with can come solely via the pensioner. It should be no more that the individual’s medical record since the time of the last final decision on degree of disablement and the pensioner’s account of his or her present state of health as affected by duty injury.

What is happening is that the independent role of the SMP is being interfered with, influenced and eroded. The above statement in the College’s report shows the extent of the toxic prejudice, and the institutionalised agenda to influence the SMP.

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. This lack of training also impacts on the ability of the force to manage these processes as the core knowledge is invested in only a small number of individuals. Where forces do not possess the knowledge, there is no immediate resource available to assist in managing these processes properly or monitor compliance in IHR and IoD decisions.

The College admits that they are failing officers who have been injured in the line of duty.  But still in Avon & Somerset, the likes of Wood (HR Business Manager), Jones (HR Manager) and Bulpitt (FMA) – the cabal of the above mentioned small number of individuals – continue their crusade to undermine injury pensions further.  Are they not responsible for a disservice to officers who have been injured in the line of duty?   Why, we have to ask, are they left to further add their concentrated toxicity to the process with nothing to neutralise them? Could it be that no other person in the force has any clue what they are up to? Or is it nearer to the truth that no other person cares what they are up to?

Here are a few bullet points that the College left out their report:

  1. Retired officers often feel abhorrence to the force that they left. Being pragmatic former police officers, it is not the injury that they begrudge, so much as how the force focused it’s ire and treated them like a contaminated contagious foreign body that needed to be expelled.
  2. Those with an injury pension have made it their business to understand the Regulations and case-law. We know far more than the inexperienced and poorly trained ‘key personnel’ which infest so many forces, as alluded to in the College’s report.
  3. After HOC 46/2004, we have had enough. We will not stand for further abuse and maladministration.

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Reviews only work if the process has trust.  The report of the College of Policing shows that the medical retirement process itself is broken.  A broken process generates distrust. Why would anyone who has been treated unfairly, even unlawfully, allow the force that did them such a disservice back into their life so that the force can roll them over again with a view to reducing the force’s financial commitments?  Once bitten, twice shy.

The world has moved on; the Regulations are the same but pensioners experience of abuses over the years against injury awards by those mentioned in the College of Policing report means things are profoundly different now from what they once were.  Pensioners are educated in the wiles of errant HR, Occupational Health personnel and corrupt SMPs and know how to recognise them, and how to deal with them. The recent past abuses can not be easily forgotten, if ever. The current evolving abuses cannot be tolerated or allowed to continue. Unless there is a disclosure of the full truth behind these abuses followed by a genuine change of attitude within forces, and open minded reconciliation then it is unlikely that anyone who has an injury award will blindly allow themselves to be victims again.

Who will watch the watchers?

Who will watch the watchers?

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Who will watch the watchers?”


Police Pension Authorities (PPA) have the administrative power and control of the implementation of the Police Injury Pension Regulations. They are the watchers. But some think they have more important things do, so neglect their duties in respect of the Regulations. In most forces the office of PPA is vested in the sole personage of the Chief Constable. Police injury pensioners would expect each PPA to apply their accumulated wisdom and police experience to the role. Wisdom and experience which are so very obviously lacking when the discretionary powers of a PPA are delegated, with abandonment of oversight, to lower members of staff. A rudderless ship is only a blink away from catastrophe. It is more than a mere conflict of interest if the chief financial officer or a HR manager take over the powers – it is a recipe for a disaster. Even worse should a Police and Crime Commissioner insert herself into policy making and seek to influence how the Regulations should be applied.

Whereas a PPA would normally be trusted to be fair in the application of the Regulations, when careless delegation exists the administration of injury pensions becomes twisted and corrupted; the foundation of the power itself and the authority it invokes is eroded. If a statutory power to oversee the administration of injury pensions is being abused in order to reduce the financial burden of the constabulary, then the post-holder of the power, and the power itself, are both compromised.

If the PPA is not watching, then who is watching the PPA? Who is there ready to step in when a PPA effectively walks off the bridge and lets the cook or cabin boy steer the ship? There is a fundamental flaw in handing police pension powers to the very person who stands to see their budget benefit should the Regulations be abused in order to try to save money. If the watcher is failing – who is there for the governed to turn to?  That is the crux of this post. Can the police do whatever they want, because they are the police?

No is the answer. With great power comes great responsibility (Voltaire).  The watcher is duty bound to administer injury pensions only as dictated by statute; that is the primary raison d’etre of a PPA.

In the stated case R v East Sussex County Council, Ex p Tandy [1998] AC 714, Lord Browne-Wilkinson indicated that to permit the Local Education Authority avoiding performing a statutory duty on the grounds that it prefers to spend the money in other ways would be to downgrade a statutory duty to a discretionary power.

In other words, no matter how the Chief Constable, the Director of Finance, or the Police and Crime Commissioner would rather spend ratepayers’ hard earned contributions, when it comes to police injury pensions the Police Pension Authority has an obligation first, last, and only, to the relevant pension Regulations. A Chief Constable must take off his police hat and don a different one. He must be capable of understanding that the role of PPA is distinct and different from his role as the head of the force.

But what happens if a PPA is obviously failing in its role?  Perhaps the post-holder is keeping the Captain’s seat warm whilst the true PPA is being investigated for serious misconduct allegations, and perhaps the temporary post holder has not got a grasp of what is happening on his watch.  Who can act as the guardian of the guardian and step in to resolve the maladministration and misery inflicted on disabled former officers?

It is for sure that the acting PPA has no will to stand tall and live up to the expectations of the role. What we have seen so far by Avon & Somerset is a text-book response of an inward-looking, self-serving, po-faced, morally bankrupt public organisation.  When they get things wrong the immediate reaction is to cover it up, and if challenged they resort to waffle and bluster. They never apologise, and nobody ever gets punished.

West Yorkshire Police (WYPA) is another fine example of where maladministration has flourished despite the supposedly restraining oversight of the PPA. The Pension Ombudsman (PO) has found (upheld or partly upheld) repeatedly against WYPA in the last 18 months:

Ref:PO-1407 Date:17 Apr 2014

Ref:PO-2799 Date:05 Aug 2014

Ref:PO-2301 Date:20 Mar 2015 *

Ref:PO-2705 Date:30 Mar 2015

Ref:PO-4078 Date:05 June 2015

*although not upheld by the PO this was on a technicality as the appellant had already received compensation and recompense before the decision – WYPA was still found to be guilty of maladministration

What does it take to impeach an organisation which has so many failures?  Is it the case that those retired out on injury awards have to continually ride this roller-coaster of being ‘had over’ by the PPA, turn to the PO to uphold the complaint, wait expectantly for a change in attitude and approach, only for the PPA to do it all again to others?

In a Utopia, the role of PPA would be taken from errant Chief Officers and the task handed to some other, more competent, agency to administer.

As with West Yorkshire so with Avon & Somerset: what does it take to for an external guardian to declare, ‘enough is enough’?

There are complaints pending with the Information Commissioner’s Office. There are complaints heading towards the Pensions Ombudsman. They have been questions raised with Members of Parliament. The Home secretary has been informed, the Federation knows about it, solicitors have been put on notice . . . but still Avon & Somerset pretend that they are righteous. The morals of senior management of Avon and Somerset are tainted by noble cause corruption. They have their righteous eyes on their duty to be prudent with the public purse, but fail to see that does not confer entitlement to abuse the Regulations or disabled former officers. It is sad to reflect that no-one at the insular ivory tower at Portishead thinks that keeping all those former officers in review purgatory for over a year is a bad thing.

Juvenal, an ancient Roman, satirically questioned what happens when guardians, whose job it is to enforce moral behaviour on certain women, get paid in kind to look the other way.

It is an age-old problem, so I will leave it to Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, who also voiced concerns about the guardians, to remind us that the solution is to properly train the guardians’ souls.

Legal Services

Legal Services

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Today, let’s discuss the legal services department of Avon & Somerset Constabulary. It can only be guessed at why a Legal Services team now handles all enquiries about injury pensions, which include the police pension authority’s abuse of its power of discretion to review them, questions over interference in the SMP’s independent decision-making role, and many other matters of contention. But let us try to make sense of it.

A&S’s Daniel Johnson (Solicitor Advocate) and Shahzad Hamid who is a ‘caseworker’ have been busy sending what I can only call ‘one direction’ correspondence to those former officers caught up with this travesty. Its one direction because these two tell people they are involved, and say they are looking into matters but then clam up when asked when a response will be given. They then stop replying and retreat into silence. To reply would mean either lying, or telling the truth, and these legal eagles are too crafty to commit to either, for lying would inevitably bite the liar, and telling the truth would mean the force having to admit it is in the wrong.

Back in October 2014 several of the 16 being reviewed received this ominous email – yes email!, HR obviously had no uneasy feeling of doubt with disclosing personal email addresses to a 3rd party – from the two protagonists above:

From: #LegalAdvice

This matter has been passed to the Legal Services Directorate who are reviewing your correspondence.

We will respond to you once we have considered and reviewed the matter.


Legal Services

True to form and despite numerous requests for updates and questions on why legal services are involved there has been no response. Either they have given up ‘considering the matter’ or have considered it and have not been happy with the conclusion they’ve drawn.

It is as if A&S thought that by telling us that the heavies of legal services are now involved that we would be browbeaten into acquiescence. Why would a force feel it needed to try to bully former offices by telling them that enquiries are in the hands of their solicitors?

The 2012 stated case of Crudace can show A&S where bullying leads..

The judge gave a damning indictment of the bully-boy tactics of the force concerned:

It is, however right to bear in mind that the letter was sent by the solicitor of a public body to a disabled unrepresented former officer.

That force was Northumbria, and its solicitor threatened 45 elderly disabled former officers who’d had the temerity to seek an appeal on what later was proved to be unlawful decisions by the force’s SMP. He told them their appeals were hopeless, and if they went ahead the force would apply for costs when they lost.

There has been nothing heard from Shahzad and Dan for several months now. That is, until the latest HR ‘liaison’ meeting. Of course the word ‘liaison’ means something different to A&S than it does to normal folk. Instead of being a meeting to facilitate communication and discussion it is just another black hole into which all questions and queries disappear. The liaison meetings serve one purpose only – they are intended to enable Wood, Bulpitt and Jones to inform local NARPO and Police Federation representatives why the force hasn’t done anything to sort out the mess it has made, and why the delay is all the fault of the IODs.

The latest meeting in June 2015 concluded that:

Avon and Somerset Force HR reported that they now have one instance whereby they consider there is a ‘failure to engage’ with the process by one IOD pensioner, this is being looked at by their legal department.

There is nothing in the Regulations concerning ‘failure to engage’. This is no more than a convenient invention by a force which knows it is in the wrong and seeks to displace the blame. There is regulation 33, but this concerns the wilful and negligent failure to attend a medical examination.  Even if such an event were to occur the only power provided by regulation 33 is that a decision can be made on the available medical evidence.  It is not a free pass to conduct a fresh review and is in no way  a gateway to sanction the infliction of a penalty that automatically reduces the award.

The Home Office stated this month that ‘reduction of awards without proper examination was declared unlawful’.

Before an injury pension can be revised, substantial alteration has to be proved – no evidence of improvement is in no way substantial alteration. The argument from ignorance raises it’s ugly head again.

But what if the person involved is too ill to attend an assessment, and who has sent medical reports from their specialist to the selected medical practitioner explaining that is the case, and who has been pleading with the HR department not to review just now? Any humane, responsible, intelligent, Regulations-savvy HR person would realise that not only should this person not be reviewed as the interval of time since the last decision on degree of disablement is not a suitable interval, but the blanket approach of reviewing a group of band fours is unlawful, and that in the 15 years since their last decision their health has deteriorated.

Is that pensioner ‘failing to engage’? I think it is seen by A&S rather as a case of too much engagement. They would prefer all disabled former officers were compliant sheep.  The police pension authority via it’s SMP proxy has available evidence to say in such a circumstance a review is not appropriate. Yet they fail to accept that, and instead of ending the misery they are visiting on the pensioner they want to leave matters endlessly hanging, and imply it is all the pensioner’s fault.

Of course, this is A&S HR I’m talking about, so if its threats and abuse you want, they are the people for the job, but otherwise, forget it.

Deep in their den of Legal Services, Dan and Shahzad have undoubtedly been tasked to frame their next course of action to fit their preferred perverted version of the facts.  The decision to ‘come down hard’ has been made.  They now have to invent the justification. And that is the bottom line why Legal Services have been engaged.  Good luck with that, boys.

Avon & Somerset finds itself in the review paradox.

If the reason to invoke a review is unlawful, as exemplified by A&S failing to make a decision to review on a case by case basis, then any revision of the award is unlawful. The Regulations tell us clearly, that only when a police pension authority is considering whether to revise an injury pension shall it refer the question of degree of disablement to a duly qualified medical practitioner. Well, the fact is you can’t revise an injury pension unless they believe that that pensioners level of disablement has altered. In plain language, understood by all except those in A&S who would prefer the Regulations were written differently, this means that there has to be some good reason for believing there has been an alteration in degree of disablement before they can tell a pensioner he has to see the SMP,

The paradox is that it is unlawful to make a revision to an award when there was no reason to invoke the revision in the first instance.

The corollary to the paradox is that is it unlawful to declare a ‘failure to engage’ when the Regulations are absent of such a term, and you can not ‘fail to engage’ in an invocation of something that should not have been brought into being.

Perhaps Dan and Shahzad need to brush up on their legal skills.

Tell them everything or say nothing

Tell them everything or say nothing

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
Elbert Hubbard

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”
George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such

A person undergoing a DWP assessment for benefits needs to provide evidence they are still entitled to that benefit. If they don’t do this then the DWP investigator has the power to remove said benefit.

An Injury on Duty award isn’t a benefit and can not be removed. If there is substantial change in the degree of disablement then the award can be revised, but it can never be stopped. There is no investigator or benefit claim. Nothing can be revoked or cancelled. When a review is held a police pension authority is to consider the sole question of, ‘is there any substantial alteration?’ Only If there is evidence which indicates there may be a substantial alteration then must the authority refer for decision the question of degree of disablement to a duly qualified medical practitioner.

On their fishing trip to elicit a response from IOD pensioners, Avon & Somerset tried to bluff that if they didn’t disclose any information requested, (such as how many cars you drive!) then they could stop the injury award (which they can’t) or prosecute you for providing misleading or inaccurate information (which would be something they might well regret trying).

Here’s the nasty little threat they sent to vulnerable disabled former officers, all  of whom have to bear the burden of very severe disablement.


This supposed threat of prosecution was queried with a FOI request:

The force provided a classic example of corporate blather in response.

“The statement has been on the questionnaire relating to injury awards since 2003 (arising from a meeting of the Attendance Management Group held on 9 October 2002). The statement reflects the details included in the questionnaires provided by Essex and Sussex Police at that time and agreed with the Federation in January 2003.

The statement is intended to clarify that there are possible consequences should a former officer either omit information which is relevant to the consideration of the injury award and/or purposely provides misleading information which could possibly be fraudulent.

If the statement is not signed, it does not halt the review process, but if the details were found be fraudulent due consideration would be given to the next appropriate steps. It may be helpful to note that this statement has never needed to be actioned to date.”

This sinister, and wholly unfounded threat came from a police force,  for crying out loud !!

Threatening injured former officers with an invented prosecution?

Why would any IOD pensioner think themselves obliged to cooperate with a HR Department that thinks it can treat people like this?

What do the Regulations say about not engaging with a review?

The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 Regulation 33

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

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

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

The interpretation of this is that if you deliberately don’t turn up for an assessment by the SMP then the force is allowed to make a decision based on such evidence and medical advice that they think is necessary.

That’s it. No reduction or suspension of injury award.

If you decide to attend for assessment by the SMP, but also decide to refuse to agree to full disclosure of medical records, back to birth, confining agreement to release of only records made since the last decision on degree of disablement, then you have complied, albeit with conditions.

The SMP and the force might not think you have been as cooperative as they wish.

In either circumstance – complete refusal to engage in what we know is a mockery of what should be a lawful process, or limited, conditional cooperation – then the force might, if they are daft enough, try to use regulation 33.

Their first problem though would be to satisfy the stringent test of ‘wilfully or negligently’. This is a high hurdle to jump and a hard condition to prove. How could any IOD pensioner be said to be wilfully or negligently refusing to engage with a process which he or she has very good reason to believe is unlawful? That is more than enough of a rational reason for refusal.

Their second problem would be trying to make a determination on such evidence and medical advice as they could obtain. The force seems to have lost or destroyed a lot of files and even if they have a full set most of them will contain information which has not been added to for many years. What evidence could there be of any alteration in degree of disablement?

The force can only use factual information – your notes when you retired for instance – to prove that there is a case for substantial alteration. They can’t pull a fresh assessment out of thin air as this inevitably revisits causation and apportionment and is forbidden. The High Court says so.

If there is no evidence of a substantial alteration in your degree of disablement then the status quo continues, no alteration means no revision of injury pension.

Instead of politely enquiring with pensioners whether their medical condition resultant from the duty injury had improved or worsened substantially over the intervening years since the last time degree of disablement was decided, the force thought it best to ask sneaky, irrelevant questions in the hope that it might provide cover for what was a predetermined decision to conduct a full review involving referral to a duly qualified medical practitioner.

When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. An argument from ignorance occurs when either a proposition is assumed to be true because it has not yet been proved false (no evidence of change so the condition must have improved) or a proposition is assumed to be false because it has not yet been proved true.

This has the effect of shifting the burden of proof to the person criticizing the proposition, but is not valid reasoning.

You don’t have to tell HR or the SMP what car you drive, how you spend your day, what you submitted on your last HMRC return. The evidence required to determine alteration in degree of disablement is medical. If a SMP wants to know whether you are able to drive despite your disability, then he should ask you straightforwardly and not rely on information obtained under threat by the HR Department.

HR or the SMP have no power to try to get you to tell them your life story. What you did before the time of the last final decision is not relevant to the task in hand, which is only to look for any alteration in degree of disablement. What if the SMP takes an innocent comment out of context? You then find yourself fighting a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, and illogical game of trying to prove there is no alteration to your medical condition, whereas the burden of proof of any change is the responsibility of the SMP.

Just imagine, if you will, what might happen if you get notification that you will be reviewed. You might feel impelled to ask HR, why me? why now? What makes you think my condition has improved or worsened? Instead of an honest answer, namely that they intend to review everybody so as to try to see if they can save some money, you get the usual glib response from HR, claiming they have a right or a duty to review, blah, blah, blah. They are determined to review you and justifying their reason does not concern them. Giving a reason is not something we do. Don’t ask again or we will treat you as being vexatious, you cheeky bastard.  So you comply: you sign consent for partial disclosure of medical records. You might decide to refuse to answer their loaded questions on the questionnaire, for after all, you didn’t fill in a questionnaire when you were retired so how can they compare the here and now to the past with a new set of answers?

You then get a date to see a SMP. You turn up, wish the good doctor a pleasant hello and sit twiddling your thumbs. You answer whatever query of medical fact the doctor wishes to talk about but only concerning your medical records relating to duty injury and decline to answer anything you think is not relevant.

A review is not the Spanish Inquisition and an SMP is not supposed to behave like Tomas de Torqemada. It is not for you to prove you continue to qualify for the amount of injury pension you receive: it is for the force to determine whether or not there has been any alteration in your degree of disablement. It needs a substantial alteration before an injury pension can be revised.

It my well be that some of you think that full, unquestioning, cooperation is just fine – that you know you are not any better and you trust the SMP and HR and those that pull their strings to stick to the Regulations and case law and that everything will be just fine and dandy.

Sorry to say, that has not been the experience of most of the IOD pensioners who so far have been assessed by a SMP.  With the notable exception of those who saw Dr Jo Judge they all report abrasive and intrusive interviews, delving into areas which have nothing to do with determining whether there was any alteration. Most have not had a decision months after the event, and the SMP is trying to blame them for the delay.

So, it is up to you. Go along with a process which has about as much in common with a lawful review as does a rotten cabbage to a slice of apple pie, or give partial, conditional cooperation, or do you downright refuse to have anything to do with people who prefer to offer threats rather than ask honest questions, and who are happy to put you in front of a doctor who seems to know little about the Regulations and whose bedside manner would do justice to the little old ladies who used to knit as the guillotine did its grisly work.

What can they do if you refuse to cooperate? Downband you because they haven’t got any evidence that there is any substantial change and they feel you’ve been less then helpful? Not according to regulation 33 they can’t.

Pensioners accept that a police pension authority can hold reviews. But when reviews are not held lawfully, and when pensioners are not treated with dignity and respect, and are threatened and treated with contempt, then we need to remind ourselves that an injury pension is a right, enshrined in legislation, agreed by successive Governments, and is compensation for injury received on duty. It is not a State benefit, which we have to prove our continuing right to receive. It is part of the quid pro quo of police work. We readily put ourselves in harm’s way, and we held up our part of the bargain to the extreme extent of being damaged in body or mind, only to see some weasel with an eye on the balance sheet pressure ignorant and untrained HR types, and venal SMPs into abusing us, and the Regulations. Meanwhile, Nero fiddles as Rome burns.

The simple truth is that the drafters of the Regulations intended that reviews should only be held rarely – ‘at such interval as may be suitable’, is what they wrote. The status quo should be that no review is contemplated. When circumstances change, then a review might be appropriate. What we see in Avon and Somerset is a mind-set which thinks that a sizeable number of IOD pensioners are somehow not entitled to their pension, and that leads to the belief in certain quarters that no regard whatever need by given to the suitability or appropriateness of arranging a review in each individual instance, and no concern need be given to the health-damaging effects of putting vulnerable disabled people through the meat grinder of an unlawful process

In the here and now

In the here and now

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
George Harrison

Imagine, if you will, that you are a 37 year old male police constable with 15 years service.  You weigh 75 kilos and have 32″ waist.  You have just run to work at a brisk 6 minute mile pace, performed a 14 hour shift and run home (or if you prefer cycling, you cycled the detour of 15 miles in a spritely average of 20 mph).  You are basically immortal.  Then you have an on duty injury, and after 18 months and numerous surgical interventions you are retired with an IOD award.

What relevance would your medical notes be at the time you were 37 and able to run the 5 miles to work in 35 minutes (or cycle 15 in 45 minutes) to  start that early turn?  How would looking to that past allow for an impression on your capacity to earn on the day you were retired?

Following this train of thought, how can your fitness or lack of it 3 months or 3 years ago be an indication of your present degree of disablement?  It can’t be.

Speculation into the future is forbidden when an IOD is awarded, and this speculation similarly is not allowed at a review.  The degree of disablement in relation to earning capacity shall be determined at the time of the decision and not make any reference to potential future earning capacity (South Wales Police Force vs Anton and Crocker)

The starting point is Regulation A12(3) [of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987]. It requires an assessment of how earning capacity “has been affected”, not of how it is likely to be affected. (1)

It goes without saying that a lot of people will have reports from the SMP saying, rather hackneyed, ‘might be capable of work in the future’ or at review, the vapid ‘has worked in the past’.  These opinions are unwarranted and contrary to the above case-law.  It is how you are now, not how you were before the review started, or 12 months ago, or in 12 months time.

This is important as the above melds  two things: (1), the argument that a great number of SMP decisions are unlawful if the above comments have been used to lower a band, with (2), the reason FOR a review.  If earning capacity in the ‘here and now’ is zero then the award should be 100% and if in the ‘here and now’ the former officer is still unable to work there is no legitimation to review.  At a review, past medical records do not speak of the ‘here and now’ – arguably very recent records do, but historical records do not.     The positive duty to review is a figment of the Police Pension Authorities’ imagination.  The duty not to refuse a review if circumstances change does exist and if in the ‘here and now’ there is substantial change then the award can be revised.

The regulations are not there for any force to regularly spend over a year punishing a former officer by dragging them through a protracted review.

Interestingly, how can a force make a decision 8 months after that person saw the SMP?  Surely after such a time of procrastination any decision can be appealed with an automatic appeal of  ‘change of medical condition’.  Life has moved on, health has ‘moved on’ but the SMP report looks in the past.  The person can not be reviewed again as an immediate review consecutive to the last is not a suitable interval.  The ‘here and now’ is important.

A review is time sensitive and should be finalised within a month of the assessment (if required) with the SMP.  Otherwise time makes a non-finalised review obsolescent.  It can not be any other way – if the detailed examination of the elements were conducted 6 or 8 months ago then the ‘here and now’ has ‘been and gone’.  The “[…]  assessment of how earning capacity [ ] has been affected”  is twisted into “will be affected” and this distortion does not conform to the regulations and is explicitly denied by case-law, so therefore is unlawful.

Any  decision made based on superannuated assumptions can and shall be appealed on basis of time without any need to question the content of the decision.