Merseyside

IODPA Sounds Alarm Over Threats to Injured On Duty Police

IODPA Sounds Alarm Over Threats to Injured On Duty Police

CrowdJustice – Crowdfund public interest law

Justice for Injured On Duty Police: Donate to the Campaign That Stops Threats to Injured On Duty Police


[29th September 2017]

Charity Sounds Alarm Over Threats to Injured On Duty Police

The Injury On Duty Pensioners Association (IODPA) has today launched a campaign to fund legal assistance for disabled and vulnerable former officers who are being threatened and are facing injustice concerning their injury pensions.

CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform that enables individuals, groups and communities to come together to fund legal action.  Donors can make a pledge to the campaign here:
https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-police-injured-onduty/

IODPA is a registered charity formed to relieve the need of retired and serving police officers in hardship or distress.

Some few forces are deliberately flouting the law. Their Chief Constables are responsible for the lawful administration of police injury pensions, but they are overseeing abuse of disabled people who have been threatened and misinformed.

IODPA needs to bring issues to the attention of the courts so as to compel errant forces to comply with the law governing police injury pensions.

The Regulations which govern injury pensions give no rights which would allow a human resources employee or a doctor working for a police force to demand personal and sensitive medical information.

In June, Merseyside Police backed down when challenged at judicial review for its unlawful action of stopping the injury award of a former officer, who rightly held the view they were not entitled to his full medical history.

In Staffordshire Police, Deputy Chief Constable recently made a public statement that:

“Staffordshire police does not threaten to suspend injury pensions if the information asked for is not provided”

Despite this promise, Andrew Colley, a human resources employee of Staffordshire police recently sent a letter to a former officer with a medical pension threatening that not providing full medical records would amount to non-attendance at a medical examination – whether or not the person physically attended.

All appointments made out by Staffordshire police  for injury pensioners to see a Dr Charles Vivian have been cancelled indefinitely as Dr Vivian is refusing to see any pensioner without prior completion of a questionnaire and disclosure of full medical records from birth.

This issue is just the latest in a long history of deliberate and determined abuse of vulnerable disabled former officers, and of the law, by some forces. IODPA needs to fund successful legal challenges, which will benefit all of the over 12,000 former officers who are retired due to disabling injury on duty.

IOPDA seeks to challenge this unlawful abuse of process by providing legal assistance though solicitors with expertise in this area. Our appointed legal experts are Haven Solicitors and Cartwright King.

Contact: press@iodpa.org

Proudly associated with:
Mark Lake http://cartwrightking.co.uk/
Ron Thompson http://havensolicitors.co.uk/

Injury On Duty Pensioners Association (Charitable Incorporated Association)
Registered Charity Number 1174473
Lytchett House, 13 Freeland Park Wareham Road, Lytchett Matravers, Poole, Dorset, BH16 6FA

[End]
Download here CHARITY-SOUNDS-ALARM-OVER-THREATS-TO-INJURED-ON-DUTY-POLICE.pdf

IODPA Press Release 29092017 – CHARITY SOUNDS ALARM OVER THREATS TO INJURED ON DUTY POLICE

Coming Soon: Crowd Funding to Help Those Injured on Duty

Coming Soon:  Crowd Funding to Help Those Injured on Duty

Our www.CrowdJustice.com case
Justice for Police Officers Injured On Duty

Disabled, vulnerable former police officers who were injured in the performance of their duty are facing gross injustice in regard to their pensions. Some police forces are determinedly flouting the law. They are bullying and threatening pensioners. They are demanding access to medical records from birth, which is unlawful. They are threatening to take away the pensions of those who do not comply. That too is unlawful. These abuses are only the tip of the iceberg.

Our campaign is to raise funds to allow expert solicitors to fight these injustices. We need to get the courts to order these rogue forces to comply with the law.

Haven Solictors’ legal victory over Merseyside Police, on this very issue, is being deliberately ignored. Staffordshire Police is trying to twist the law by saying that if a pensioner attends a medical examination arranged by the force but does not also give permission for the doctor to access medical records from birth then they will reduce the amount of pension paid – regardless of the individual’s medical condition.  This is absurd.

We need to raise funds to start to fight the injustice.

Police forces can, and do, spend unlimited amounts of public money to attempt to defend their misconduct. Elderly, disabled former police officers on limited incomes can not afford to hire solicitors to help protect their pensions.

A full press release will be circulated when the campaign goes live at 8am Friday 29th September.

CrowdJustice – Crowdfund public interest law

CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform that enables individuals, groups and communities to come together to fund legal action. Using the power of people to create change!

 

 

 

Merseyside Chief Responds

Merseyside Chief Responds

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”
― Edward R. Murrow

We puzzled over whether to put this in the “news” or the “views” section.  It is news, no doubt about that.  A chief constable has not only replied to IODPA but has given his permission for us to publish the letter.

We thank Chief Constable Andy Cooke for being open and transparent.  This is in stark contrast to Gareth Morgan, the former Temporary CC of Avon & Somerset and now the Chief Constable of Staffordshire who has blocked a registered charity on the Twitters.

So why is this “news” published here, in the “views” bit of our website?  Indubitably this first contact will hopefully be the start of many conversations we have with the two-hat wearing Chief Constables, but simply we’ve been here before and we need to give context.  So a blog it is.

We tweeted to Andy Cooke that reduction of injury awards in his force have been made without using a selected medical practitioner.  The letter we sent him explained our concerns.

This is Mr Cooke’s reply:
Merseyside CC Iodpa 290817

The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.  Chief constables are also the police pension authority, as well as the chief, with a overriding juxtaposition of not using the power of the latter to squeeze those adjudicated by the former.  Like Janus, the Chief/PPA has to be aware of what has gone on in the past; why words have to be backed up with trust and why trust is severely lacking in the sphere of injury awards.  What has happened in the past means words in the present can be glib and, with no disrespect meant to Andy Cooke, trite.

PCC Sue Mounstevens repeatedly said that the reviews conducted in Avon & Somerset were being carried out correctly when the true evidence was to the contrary.  She even told a member of parliament that all was good.  In November 2008 the Assistant Chief Constable Nick Croft of South Wales Police said it was OK to reduce injury awards.   Norman Bettison and David Crompton, former chief and deputy chief respectively of West Yorkshire, police defended unlawful reduction of injury awards by saying  “some very difficult and emotive choices” had to be made.  In 2009 a report was published by Derbyshire police that  talked openly about the savings to be made by reducing injury awards.  Here’s the table of projected savings they used:

Reviews undertaken in period 81
Number of reductions 38
1st year Savings £150,589.00
Savings projected to age 65 £909,229.00
Savings projected to age 75 £2,507,329.00

Last but not least there was Julie Spence, at the time the chief constable of Cambridgeshire who was adamant that she had to reduce injury awards even when it explained to her that to do so was unlawful:

“If it means that I will not use tax-payers money where I do not have the authority to do so then I agree” …
“I have sought and received advice about Home Office Guidance that NARPO had advised allows discretion, and been told very clearly that it is mandatory”

To say the evidence of legacy wrongs is vast is the understatement of the decade.

So back to Merseyside.  There is a disconnect between Mr Cooke saying a SMP was used compared to the first-hand reports of those reduced by Merseyside without seeing a SMP.   We know of at least five people who are clear that they were reduced by the Merseyside medical retirement officer, Peter Owens, on the basis of questionnaire answers.  They same the same thing: they did not see a SMP.

It is also worth considering the email the Avon & Somerset Head of Resources (finance & HR) Julian Kern sent to Merseyside when he thanked them for their hospitality back in 2015.

 We applaud the engagement of Mr Cooke and hope such communication continues.  There is a huge amount of historical information out in ‘the wild‘ that shows the real narrative of how injury awards are administered and we have the social media tools to show contradictions, such as exists between the email from Kern and the letter from Mr Cooke.

If the recollection of the past is wrong, is it misspeaking when a chief says things were done right?  It doesn’t matter that we can’t verify it, the objective truth still exists in the universe.  It also doesn’t matter that he feels like he’s telling the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth Of It

The Truth Of It

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? ~ Reg: Monty Python’s Life of Brian

In a recent Police Oracle news story concerning Merseyside police taking a former officer’s award away because – quite rightly from his position – he said he wouldn’t fill in any ridiculous questionnaire, a representative of Merseyside reportedly said:

“The only issue determined by the judicial review was whether the former officer’s pension payments should have been suspended”

Injured ex-officer sees pension reinstated after legal fight

Solicitors warn other forces about acting in a similar way. A solicitor has warned forces that attempts to make injured retired officers provide more personal information than required by law for reassessments of their pensions will be challenged. Former Merseyside Police officer Paul McHugh issued judicial…

What an example of spin – right out of the text book of Malcolm Tucker in the BBC sitcom The Thick of It. We wonder if Mr/Mrs Merseyside spokesperson asked three straightforward questions of the people who, within Merseyside, took the injury award away from Mr McHugh.

First: are they certifiably insane? That is, are they — as the Americans put it — crazier than a shithouse rat?

Second, if the unlawful removal wasn’t for not filling in the questionnaire as well as not giving full medical records from birth to the z-team HR minions, messrs Peter Owens and Supernintendo Markay, then why did they take the award away?

Did they randomly wake up one morning and arbitrarily select a victim to suspend an award!

And third: do they have anything to gain, financially, from making these assertions? Merseyside saved a lot of money by reducing people by use of this questionnaire and by not using a SMP.  All these people have grounds to demand a reconsideration.

Our guess is that none of those questions have been asked. And they have not been asked because those are not the sort of question a spokesperson working for the police is allowed to ask any more. Such a poor excuse for a glib individual must take everything at face value these days. They must not exercise their judgement — or, as we would put it, the truth…

Never mind that a sworn officer of the law at a rank of senior manager at executive level with a position to set strategy, standards and policy across a department or organisation, did something so illegal that Supernintendo Markay and Peter Owens couldn’t persuade Merseyside to defend it in the high court, and then got a spokesperson to say the judicial review wasn’t about what it was actually about to save their careers.

Quite worrying isn’t it when the upholders of the law revert to spin to cover up a major wrong?

IODPA hates it when people don’t come clean.  When they don’t mention what is staring them in the face.  When the truth is hidden.

Speaking of spin.  The Internet is such a clever thing.

We’ve found the six year old draft change to the Police Injury Benefit Regulations sat on a virtual shelf gathering dust.  This never became law and was first put forward in 2011.  All of the proposals were dropped and there are interesting conversations between the staff side and the Home Office between what should stand and what should go.  Mostly the Federation was for the proposals.  We might talk about these cosy chats in another blog.

Anyway, here it is:

Item6A,AnnexA

Regulation 33 (failure to attend a medical examination) of the 2006 Regulations becomes Regulation 32 in this proposal.

Remember, all these proposals were dropped.  But the content of this new Regulation 32 is telling:

32.—(1) This regulation applies where a relevant medical question is referred to a medical
authority under regulation 29, 30 or 31 and the person concerned wilfully or negligently fails to—
(a) submit himself to a medical examination;
(b) attend an interview; or
(c) consent to the disclosure of medical records
which the medical authority considers necessary in order to enable him to make his decision.

The real, current and active Regulation 33 makes no reference at all to medical records.  But the proposal makes an explicit reference to it.  In other words the current Regulations do not do what they want it to do.  So they wanted it changed.  They failed.

If this is not an admission that the production of medical records is not required under the current Regs, we don’t know what is.

And why was the 2011 proposed change to the Regulations dropped?  Probably because there is a provision in law that means such sweeping changes could not be applied retrospectively, and that rather defeated their point.

What the debacle of the questionnaire reveals is the untruths that underpin what certain individuals in police forces tell those who are medically retired to get them to acquiesce to unlawful demands.  The HR minion tells a porky; the head of legal services finds a clever lawyer-trick to skirt a way around a “problem”; the chief constable says all is well and right in a world of right and wellness; and the PCC says the chief is the best thing since sliced bread.  The IPCC says any such complaint is nothing to do with them and the cycle circulates infinitely.

The language of those who administer injury awards is therefore a truly transformative grammar.   There are words which, when uttered by a such a person, lose all sense of themselves — such as ‘duty’ and ‘must’ and ‘shall’.

It is not simply that these words can mean different things to different people — it is that when these people such as supernintendo Markay, Owens and Andrew Colley use them they are at best an euphemism and at worst a downright lie.

And from that you have to draw the conclusion that their whole injury award edifice is built upon a perpetually shifting succession of imaginative falsehoods.

If IODPA is unable to do anything else, our readers can be assured we will always speak the truth and like Ockham’s razor, cut through the crazy, complicated  spin and constructions spouted by those who should know better.

 

 

 

Breaking News: The Tyranny Of The Questionnaire Ends

Breaking News:  The Tyranny Of The Questionnaire Ends

Haven Solicitors has successfully won a judicial review against Merseyside Police.   Merseyside decided to give in, this is referred to as ‘conceding the case’ and a consent order has been issued.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication provided by Ron & Mark at Haven Solicitors.

Haven’s press release:

PRESS RELEASE 20.07.17

IODPA has been openly critical of Merseyside’s mass review methods since they reviewed 502 injury pensions in 9 months.

Sometimes we are eerily prescient. We said Merseyside  ripped through the review process by bullying vulnerable people to wrongly having to self-justify their own entitlement to their award under the cosh of threats that their award will removed or suspended if the invented questionnaire is not completed.  The Merseyside questionnaire follows the same format as all questionnaires used in mass review fishing expeditions.

You can read the offending questionnaire here: Merseyside Review Of Injury Award Questionnaire

No person with an injury award shall never be forced to acquiesce to such invasion of personal and sensitive data again.

Full Text:

HAVEN SOLICITORS LTD
Right against Might
Commer House
Tadcaster Enterprise Park
Station Rd, LS24 9JF
DD: 01937 837 708
Email:
Merseyside police abandon unlawful suspension of former officer’s police injury pension, reinstate the pension and pay out legal costs.

Merseyside police have abandoned an attempt to force a former police officer to disclose medical records and fill in a capacity questionnaire in advance of a police injury pension review.

The former PC had agreed to be examined by an SMP and give limited disclosure of relevant medical records to the SMP but refused to hand over all his medical records to the Force or fill in a questionnaire about his health for the Force to review in advance of an SMP referral.

He pointed out that the Force had no legal authority to demand copies of any of his medical records or force him to complete a Force questionnaire.

The Mersey Force refused to back down, claiming they had discussed this approach nationally, and had support ( we assume from the National Attendance Management Forum) to do this. The force then suspended the former officer’s entire police injury pension to try to put pressure on him to disclose medical records and fill in their questionnaire.

The former officer, with Police Federation support, also refused to back down. He instructed specialist solicitor, Ron Thompson of Haven Solicitors LTD. Mr Thompson instructed Landmark barristers David Lock QC and Richard Clarke, who promptly drafted Judicial Review proceedings to challenge this unlawful suspension.

The result was that, just before the Chief Constable was due to file his “Defence”, he backed down and lifted the suspension, The Chief Constable will also pay all the former officer’s legal costs, meaning that the episode will not result in any cost to the former officer or the Police Federation.

Ron Thompson commented on the outcome saying:

“This was an unnecessary and totally avoidable dispute. All the Chief Constable’s staff had to do was to read the wording of the Regulations to see that they had no power to force former officers to hand over medical notes or fill in questionnaires, particularly in advance of any decision to make a referral to the SMP.

The lesson from this episode for Forces is that no amount of misguided “advice” from the National Attendance Management Forum can change the meaning of the words of the Regulations.

Any other Force that tries this tactic can expect to be served with the same type of
legal challenge”
[Ends]

 

We’ve Come a Long Way…

We’ve Come a Long Way…

“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”
Joss Whedon

On the last Friday in the month of May three years ago, in the undoubtedly swanky splendour of his official residence in the Portishead headquarters of Avon & Somerset Police, Julian Kern the newly titled Director of Resources must have given a good impression of a coiled snake preparing to leap.  Eager to dig his fangs into the seemingly juicy and succulent meat of a defenceless prey, Julian had seized on Police and Crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens’s decision to reduce what she saw as the unproductive cost of honouring the force’s obligation to pay injury awards to disabled former police officers.

Kern was a finance director before he was given the dual responsibility of HR. Thus Mountstevens’s plan made perfect sense to his pounds and pence mind. Pay pensioners less, and use the money elsewhere.  To Kern it must have seemed to be a no-brainer. In the event it was, but not in the way he anticipated. Kern as a snake bared his fangs and leaped, only to strike not soft yielding flesh but concrete, ‘honey badger-like’ resolve.

Sixteen former officers were selected to have their injury pensions reviewed. The selection was made on the basis they were all in receipt of the highest level of injury pension and were all relatively young. In the warped minds of Kern and Mountstevens, the sixteen represented a long term drain on the force budget. They were a carefully chosen sample whose injury awards stood to be paid for the greatest number of years unless they could be reduced. As they were on the highest band there was no danger of their pensions being increased by a review – they could, however, with a fair wind and a compliant SMP be reduced.

Let us just remind ourselves what Mountstevens wrote to the then Policing Minister in August 2013. She wrote:

I have recently been looking into the area of “injured on duty” (IOD)  police officer pension enhancements and found that a significant part of my budget is consumed every year on these payments which generate no benefit to the people of Avon & Somerset.’

Let’s  also just remind ourselves what Mountstevens put on record at a HR Portfolio Update meeting, minuted at page 6.

Injury on Duty – The OCC have over 300 ex-officers receiving IOD enhancements costing c£6m in total per annum. This is very high compared to other forces.  There is a duty to review these and OCC are now conducting a “test” review of 16 cases – stating with the youngest/highest bands.’

So, the sixteen were selected not for any reason to believe their disablement had improved. They were to be guinea pigs to test the plan to reduce the cost of paying injury pensions.

Moreover, disabled former officers were seen as nothing more than a worthless burden.

Mountstevens even made the odious and crassly inappropriate comparison of those former officers who had been injured on duty through no fault of their own with a fleet of high mileage cars.

The annual cost of these lOD’s to the force is in excess of £5.5m (2% of our annual budget). This is more than it costs us to run our fleet . . .

It was against this money-grabbing background that Kern considered it highly likely that he, and his Z-team of HR minions and doctors (cough) Bulpitt and Johnson, could whizz through reviews of the injury pensions of all 500 disabled former officers in nine months.

Supernintendo Markay & Peter Owens of Merseyside, Stephen Mitchell of Nottinghamshire and Lesley Ann Knowles of Northumbria all squawked a tuneless wail from the same accountant’s hymn-sheet.

Reality dawned soon enough. What seemed like a walk in the park, resulting in some handy savings, turned into a slog in thigh deep mud.  Pensioners pointed out to the PCC and to HR and Kern that the reviews were being conducted unlawfully. The promise of a swift conclusion of a mass review program dissipated rapidly as the realisation dawned that pensioners were well organised and would fight for their rights. Of the sixteen original reviews, a significant portion of those sixteen still haven’t received closure from the unlawful review process. Four of the sixteen are still awaiting conclusion – three years later; a further two are still undergoing appeals to PMAB. As to the remaining 486 IOD pensioners – they have had to live with the uncertainty generated by the prospect of a review for three years now.

To date, Mountstevens and Kern have cost ‘the people of Avon & Somerset‘ ™ ~ Sue Mountstevens hundreds of thousands of pounds (yes, you read that correctly, that’s six figure numbers we’re talking) in their fruitless attempt to abuse the police pension regulations. Most of the money pocketed by the SMP, Dr Philip Johnson.

Throughout the self-generated pandemonium of a team of incompetents doing something they don’t understand how to do it, when asked, Kern has always disingenuously stated that everything is to plan and he is doing it all correctly and lawfully.  How much longer can Kern continue to claim the sun goes around the earth, or that the Emperor is wearing fine clothing? The clock is still ticking.

So back to the last weekday, a Friday, in the month of May – three years ago exactly – when, with characteristic oppressive malevolence, letters announcing the intention to review were sent out, timed to hit the letterbox of the recipients on a Saturday.  Saturday 31st May 2014 to be exact.

The weekend receipt of such nasty letters is a practice still favoured by such forces as Merseyside, Staffordshire and Northumbria.

You see, it gives the disabled person shocked and worried by the very obvious threat to their pension a full 48 hours in which to suffer anxiety and have any mental health symptoms exacerbated before they can seek help – help which is only available on the following Monday at the earliest.

This can not go unnoticed as it is beyond the realms of chance that a Saturday is when this sort of letter always hits the mat.  This abuse has a descriptive term: “white torture” – it is a form of sensory deprivation through isolation favoured by North Korea and those who administer police injury pensions.

Speaking of Merseyside, with the coordination of a bloat of hippopotamus performing synchronised swimming, that force joined the fray by reviewing 502 IOD pensioners in a space of only 9 months. They achieved this purely by getting their resident medical retirement ‘officer‘, Peter Owens, to demand, with threats, that IOD pensioners tell him their earnings. On that irrelevant scrap of information Owens decided who might have experienced a substantial alteration in their degree of disablement, and who had probably not. He conveniently ignored the little legal requirement of having only a duly qualified medical practitioner decide the medical question of substantial alteration. He also chose to ignore the small legal point that an individual’s uninjured earning capacity could be higher than their former police salary.

Nottinghamshire mirrored Merseyside but, with flash of misplaced egotism, felt the need to get Stephen Mitchel (HR manager/NWEF deputy chair) and Dr Ralph Sampson to gloat to the national attendance management forum in a powerpoint presentation that’s it is all about the money and used twisted examples of dubiously reduced injury awards but conveniently left out that a proportion of those reduced won their award back on appeal.

Without thought, Staffordshire has also jumped into the murky waters and started a mass review program. We in IODPA say to Staffordshire police pension authority, ‘Good luck with that, mate. See you in court.’

An independent observer might well think this sort of action by these forces was co-ordinated; possibly even sanctioned by the heady mix of nasties who attend NWEF conferences.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes that we can’t talk about publicly due to the ongoing legal cases, but in each of the forces listed here there are appeals ongoing.  Judicial reviews take time to get before a judge and pension ombudsman decisions take an age to get to an adjudicator – the lag is both frustrating and annoying but it’s clear that we have a better idea of the weather signs of the inevitable incoming storm than the forces themselves – where typically the left hand can’t see the jerking, dying twitches of the right hand.  Exampled in the Notts presentation, forces spin their dubious outcomes favourably and rarely confer the bad news to each other as not to lose face.

Perhaps if Northumbria or Avon & Somerset used the college of policing’s internal group chat system called POLKA to honestly tell of the real firestorm they find themselves in, instead of swapping notes between SMPs in how to subvert the Regulations, forces like Staffordshire wouldn’t blunder ponderously into the same pit of despair. www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Research/polka/Pages/POLKA.aspx

POLKA (the Police OnLine Knowledge Area) is a secure online collaboration tool for the policing community to network, ask questions, share insights, discuss ideas and suggest new ways of working.

We are aware of HR drones and SMPs (the supposedly independent medical authority) forming POLKA groups as the means to build contacts and then immediately jumping into using WhatsApp to continue their heinous discussions.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has criticised the impressive security of WhatsApp by saying the police and intelligence agencies need to be given access to WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging services to thwart future terror attacks.  Oh, the irony that those under her employ are using the same platform to swap their own devious recipies!

Why would honest public employees use an encrypted social media tool in an attempt to escape the open and honest disclosure of public decision making processes as demanded by the Freedom of Information Act?  Rhetorical question of course, honest employees would not.

It is not just the fact of attempting mass reviews which is indisputably unlawful. The devil is also in the detail – in the way individual disabled former officers are treated by those in HR; we know of one retired officer who had their injury award removed on the fabricated charge of failing to attend a medical examination.  We should not have to remind pension authorities of the fact that an injury pension cannot be ceased in this way.

But this particular incident was quite a feat in the interpreted perversion of ‘failure to attend‘ when the SMP, a psychologist, the retired officer, spouse and Federation rep all sat in the same room for the best part of a day.

When the offending force was reminded of this fact by way of a letter from a solicitor offering to have the issue tested by way of judicial review, the force reinstated the pension a week later.

It was established that this medical examination of the former officer by the force’s tame SMP was nothing more than a sham.  The former officer did attend – with their partner and a Federation representative as mentioned above – the SMP just unilaterally decided the questions he asked had not been answered sufficiently.

The truth of it is that the SMP had made up his mind and refused to listen and so sent a missive to the shameless force that he thought the pensioner should be punished for his definition of non-compliance.  Totally unlawful but sadly a true story.  The ineptitude of police forces know know no bounds when it comes to “doing the legs” of those it medically retired.

So three years on, where are we? We have seen the formation of IODPA – and what a journey it’s been. IODPA was created in the chaos of 2014 when three forces who attended the National Attendance Management Forum thought they could ride roughshod over those injured and retired from the police.

From fortnightly informal meetings we have evolved to a national association which holds two conferences per year, attended by our members, lawyers and like-minded individuals. We are able to instigate training sessions, taught by legally qualified experts, attended by Federation and NARPO representatives.

Every second of every hour our presence serves to counter the misinformation spouted by the likes of Nicholas Wirz, the principle Solicitor of Northumbria and so-called legal advisor to the laughably recently re-branded National Welbeing and Engagement Forum.

Social media has helped us spread our message world-wide.  Our Facebook page, with short soundbites, has thousands of daily hits but tellingly people many continue to still take 5 to 10 minutes out of their hectic life to read our blogs.  This map shows the views by countries of this website.

We thank our constant readers and our supporters.

 

The likes of Wirz, Kern, Mounstevens, Owens, and all the corrupt SMPs who willingly follow their instructions are put on due notice that they will never succeed in continuing to abuse disabled former officers and their families. Nor will they ever succeed in their attempts to twist, evade or corrupt the Regulations. IODPA, and pensioners, have the resolve and the means to challenge and defeat them and we will do exactly that.

Ms Doubtfire & Mr Williams

Ms Doubtfire & Mr Williams

“And what physicians say about consumptive illnesses is applicable here: that at the beginning, such an illness is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; but as time passes, not having been recognized or treated at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure.”
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

A 2010 judicial review had far-reaching implications for former officers in receipt of an injury on duty pension on the distinction between a diagnosis and a disability. We will take a look at it in this blog, but apropos of nothing more than amusement, note that the surnames of the two disabled former police officers appellants give the real name and character identity of the actor in a film which combines slapstick comedy with a poignant look at a broken marriage.  Hmmm? There is a fair bit of comedy in the pathetic efforts of some HR managers, who love to pretend they are something they most certainly are not. As Mrs Doubtfire (the character) might say, ‘Well my dear, they puff and pout and blather in a vain effort to appear professional, but they consistently fail to live up to their own low standards.’

Doubtfire & Williams, R (on the application of) v West Mercia Police Authority & Merseyside [2010] EWHC 980 (Admin) (14 May 2010)

This case changed how ill-health retirements and injury awards are conducted.

Doubtfire & Williams supplanted another judicial review which occurred just prior to it – that was the one where, in a ridiculously bizarre situation, Northumbria Police’s in-house solicitor Nicholas Wirz took his own doctor, Dr Jon Broome, to the High Court. (That case is Dr Broome (Industrial and Organisational Health) v Northumbria Police Authority – 2010).  You won’t find the Broome transcript on the bailli.org database (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) which is helpful as Doubtfire & Williams rubbished the point Wirz was trying to prove anyway.

In Broome v Northumbria, Northumbria conducted the legal equivalent of playing a game of shinty with itself.  Shinty is that rough-house where two teams of people hit each other with sticks whilst aiming for a ball. Wirz hired Sam Green QC to sue Northumbria’s own SMP, but despite his best efforts, this judicial review confirmed that when a review of degree of disablement is held a SMP cannot introduce into the assessment new medical conditions caused by police duties.   “Impuissant” means  powerless, ineffectual, feeble, or impotent – rather sums up this Wirz v Broome judicial review that even bailli.org doesn’t want show.

Anyway, bailli.org does have our Doubtfire judicial review in all it’s glory.  It post-dates, therefore over-rides, the Broome one and clarifies that the Regulations are concerned with the disability not the medical condition itself. The Doubtfire & Williams case had more to say about the diagnosis of the medical condition.

Appellant Ms Doubtfire served as a police officer with the West Mercia Police from 23rd October 1989 until she was retired by reason of ill health on 6th September 2008.  Even though her employers knew Ms Doubtfire had a history of underlying depressive illness she was posted to an extremely stressful and public-facing hate crime unit.  The stress of the role and a perceived level of insensitivity from her superior officers together with a lack of adequate line management at senior level aggravated her condition. There was a suicide attempt in 2004. She took sick leave in October 2005 and never returned to work. West Mercia, perhaps to their credit, or perhaps out of complete indifference, did not see fit to retire her on grounds of ill health until 2008.

The SMP in that process was a Dr Jackson who decided that her diagnosis was Social Phobia. Which is a condition classified in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO).  The classification reference number is: (ICD10 F40.1)

The second jointly heard case involved Merseyside.  Northumbria & Merseyside are the panto villains of the IOD world.  It would be trivialising the subject matter and profound life-changing damning effects these forces have on the injured officers they attack to say this.  To imply a ‘panto‘ where villain is hissed and the poor victims “awwwww’d” would be improper.  But still, it’s always the same named employees salaried by the public purse that continually​ do this evil in a frequency beyond parody.

Appellant Mr Williams joined Merseyside Police in July 1991 and served with that force until he was required to retire by SMP Dr Smith because of Bipolar Affective Disorder (ICD10 F31.6), a condition which arose as a result of the refusal and repeated failings of Merseyside to help him with support and retraining. Mr Williams retired on the 4th September 2006.

After their ill-health retirement, both Ms Doubtfire and Mr Williams applied for an injury award.

Although the SMP for Ms Doubtfire, Dr Jackson, had signed-off the social phobia as a permanent disablement for the ill-health retirement, when he came to assess her for the injury award he performed a complete u-turn.  He decided that what he had diagnosed as Social Phobia was questionable. In his words, “should not be completely discounted”, but discount it he did.  He decided it was not the result of an injury in the execution of duty and that in any case the permanent disability was more to do with the depressive illness.

A similar example of the mercurial minds of SMPs was experienced by Mr Williams.  For his injury award he was put in front of a new SMP, Dr Vincenti, who brazenly over-ruled over-ruled Dr Smith, by claiming that he could find:

“. . . no evidence whatsoever from the history, examination of the documentary evidence, and from my examination of Mr Williams as well as my conversation with his wife, that he ever suffered from a bipolar affective disorder.”

But Dr Vincenti none-the-less approved the injury award, stating that his opinion was Mr Williams’s depressive illness had a precipitating cause linked to his work and in particular the lack of support. Dr Vincenti therefore concluded that the permanent condition from which the Claimant suffered, namely depression, was

the result of an injury received in the execution of his duty

True to form, Merseyside didn’t like this one bit and started judicial review proceedings against Dr Vincenti.  The case never went before the court as a compromise agreement was put into place for Mr Williams to be referred to a new SMP.  This time a Dr Staley of West Midlands Service for Police Psychiatry was asked to consider the regulatory questions.

After having his award approved by one doctor, it was now effectively taken from him by another.

Dr Staley stated in his 2009 report that:

Mr Williams’ reaction to the alleged bullying should not be considered an injury on duty in that if an injury did occur it happened as a result of his status as a police officer rather than as a result of his carrying out his duties as an officer.”

As might well be expected, Mr Williams appealed to a PMAB.  One of the board members, Dr Nehaul, changed the diagnosis yet again – this time to moderate depressive illness.

The PMAB all agreed that the moderate depressive illness was an injury on duty and therefore there was eligibility to an injury award.  But in a twist, they went on to say he suffered from a psychological impairment as a result of an injury on duty and this was a depressive disorder not Bi-Polar Affective Disorder, as diagnosed by the original SMP, Dr Smith.

The Board considered that as Dr Smith had, in its opinion, certified the wrong diagnosis then it could not decide Mr Williams was entitled to an injury award!

In other words, his permanent disablement that necessitated his ill-health retirement was, in their view, wrong and even though he had been injured on duty then they could not give him what he was entitled to, due their interpretation of a point of law.

These events led both Ms Doubtfire and Mr Williams to a judicial review as a joint appellants, to be heard before His Honour Judge Pelling, QC.

Of course a cynical mind might say that the SMPs involved were quick to decide upon permanent disablement when there are no cost implications to the force, but become truculent in such matters when financial exposure means it’s in their employer’s interest to refuse to grant injury awards.  An ill health retirement is funded by the contributions made by all officers during their service. An injury pension stands to be paid out of the force budget.

The experiences of Doubtfire and Williams is closely reminiscent of the previous history of forces using medical retirement as a personnel management tool when central Government funds picked up the tab and has similarities with the current trend of nowadays never medically retiring anyone and keeping ill and damaged serving officers in limbo.

The Doubtfire & Williams case shows the problems which can be caused to injured officers when doctors argue between themselves over medical opinion.  It shows the farcical potential of the injury award procedure in glaring detail – a process where officers injured in the line of duty in certain forces can now expect to be royally done over if they apply for an injury award.

Merseyside and West Mercia lost this judicial review.  The former officers got the injury award they deserved and were entitled to.

Justice Pelling quashed both PMAB verdicts.  For Ms Doubtfire he said:

In relation to Ms Doubtfire, it is clear from the defendant’s report that it asked itself the wrong question namely whether “workplace events” might have led to Social Phobia. That was not the correct question. The correct question was whether her permanent disablement had been caused by an injury in the execution of duty.”

And for Mr Williams,

In relation to Mr Williams, exactly similar conclusions follow – the Defendant asked itself whether Bi Polar Affective Disorder was the result of an injury on duty. This was not the correct question as I have explained. The correct question involved asking whether Mr William’s permanent disablement was the result of (a) an injury, which (b) was received in the execution of duty.”

The judge’s explanation on why the wrong question was asked hinges on the Regulations.  The wording of Regulation 30(2) taken as a whole makes clear that the reference is to “…the disablement …”.  The diagnosis doesn’t feature.

Let us take a closer look at this Regulation.

30.—(2) Subject to paragraph (3), where the police authority are considering whether a person is permanently disabled, they shall refer for decision to a duly qualified medical practitioner selected by them the following questions—
(a) whether the person concerned is disabled;
(b) whether the disablement is likely to be permanent,

except that, in a case where the said questions have been referred for decision to a duly qualified medical practitioner under regulation H1(2) of the 1987 Regulations, a final decision of a medical authority on the said questions under Part H of the 1987 Regulations shall be binding for the purposes of these Regulations;
and, if they are further considering whether to grant an injury pension, shall so refer the following questions—
(c) whether the disablement is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty,
 and
(d) the degree of the person’s disablement;

The questions have to be answered sequentially at each stage in the process. The decision made are required to be final, (subject only to appeal or reconsideration).

Paragraph (c), the question of whether it is an on duty injury, is to the disablement in respect of which either the disablement questions identified in (a) and (b) have been answered affirmatively or the disablement is one to which the proviso applies.

The Regulations do not call for a diagnosis.

In the Doubtfire and Williams case we have seen the sorry mess that medically qualified, but largely legally ignorant doctors can make of what is a very simple matter. Of course, permanent disablement has to be of a qualified medical condition (affirmed in the Clementson & Doyle judicial review – Northumbria AGAIN!), but even if a doctor is unable to give it a classification or is uncertain as to exactly what the condition is, that does not prevent them from deciding that it is an injury on duty which is likely to be permanent.  It is a medical question after-all that needs to be answered.  But this is only for the purpose of demonstrating that the relevant disablement has been caused by an ” … infirmity of mind or body“.

Once that test has been passed it is only the answer to the question whether the officer is permanently disabled that is final and the causation to it that is binding.

Justice Pelling clarifies this point with an example.  If a former officer is refused an injury award on the basis of a flawed diagnosis then he has the avenue to appeal the decision to a PMAB.

Imagine though if the former officer is given an injury award, the permanent disablement is obvious but the diagnosis is factually incorrect as the SMP has little experience in such a specialism.  The former officer has no incentive to appeal as he has the end result he applied for, notwithstanding the diagnosis is a bit topsy-turvy.

This position is affirmed in Regulation 31 – the power to appeal a decision to a police medical appeals board.  A former police officer has the power to appeal when they are “… dissatisfied with the decision of the [SMP] as set out in a report under Regulation 30(6) …”.  They do not necessarily have the same right to appeal with regards to the contents of the report other than the decision.  Mistakes in the content of a medical report can be remedied by withdrawing consent until the errors are rectified by use of the Access to Medical Reports Act (AMRA).

Parts (a), the disability and (b), the permanence of Regulation 30(2) can not be revisited if the question of the injury award is not decided concurrently with the question of ill-health retirement.

The arguments Merseyside and West Mercia presented to the court, if they had won, would lead to the absurd situation Mr Williams found himself in – a purgatory where someone could be permanently disabled and medically retired but not disabled permanently enough for an injury award.  Just because two medical practitioners have a difference of opinion.  Too ill to be recalled to duty but now not having a disablement sufficient for the ill-health retirement just given – a limbo position existing nowhere but upon the borders of Hell.

Justice Pelling put this into legal speak:

If the analysis identified above is adopted then the absurdity that so concerned the Defendant Board in relation to Mr William’s case – that is that the permanent disability of the Claimant was caused by an injury and was caused in the execution of duty but the Defendant was precluded from answering the causation case in favour of the Claimant because it did not agree with the original diagnosis – cannot arise.”

So it is the disablement that matters, not the diagnosis.  And if the disablement for the ill-health retirement is the same as those applied for in the injury award then the questions of permanency and disablement are answered and can not be revisited.

But what happens if someone is retired on a medical grounds for a non-duty injury and after retirement applies for an injury award?

Justice Pelling covers this succinctly and says no paradox is caused.

When an officer suffers a permanent disability otherwise than in execution of his duty but sustains another disability thereafter then his or her permanently disability will have been established for retirement purposes and does not have to be established again.
However, in relation to any claim for injury benefit by reference to the subsequent duty injury all three questions (the disablement questions and the causation question) identified in Regulation 30(2) will have to be answered.
This is not because it is relevant to the retirement decision but because on this hypothesis all three will be relevant to the question whether injury benefit should be paid by reference to the permanent disability alleged to have been caused by the duty injury.

Justice Pelling says that this way the absurdity of Merseyside and West Mercia  is solved,

Thus as I see it there is no risk of the sort of absurdity that the Claimant prays in aid arising, nor do I see this issue as assisting in the question that arises one way or the other.”

We can only hope that common sense prevails and that the sort of unnecessary trauma Ms Doubtfire and Mr Williams went through stops for good and the legal services of certain police forces stop this ‘gamesmanship’ interpretation of statute.

Until forces like Merseyside and Northumbria start to understand the harm they cause to disabled people and chose to take a more humane path, there’s always the possibility that they will continue to drag injured officers before the courts, only to lose.

We have said it before, and we will say it again. It’s all about the money. Some forces, like Northumbria and Merseyside have Chief Constables who fail to make proper differentiation between their duties in that office with their duty as a police pension authority. When acting as the former, they quite rightly must be prudent with their budget. When acting as the latter they must not take any account of the cost of decisions made in the grant of injury awards.

And on the matter of costs. It seems that 38 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales have seen the light. They realise that it is illusory to think that reviews of degree of disablement will result in savings. The opposite is true. Unless the regulations are applied honestly, fairly, and properly, then about-to-be-retired officers and IOD pensioners will mount very effective challenges which will create unjustifiable costs to the forces concerned. SMPs, HR managers, and in-force legal advisors have proved time and time again they are not competent to administer the Regulations properly. The most ignorant keep thrashing around with their shinty sticks.

The sensible ones have stepped off the field.

Comparisons

Comparisons

“Comparisons are odious.”
Attr. to John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440.

In this blog we will be looking briefly at the inconsistencies, irrelevancies and plain old deliberate contrivances used by some HR people and some SMPs in their desperate and immoral attempts to swindle retiring injured police officers out of their correct level of injury pension.

It has become common practice in certain force areas for horses to be compared to geese and sheep. By which we mean that when a police pension authority sets out to retire an officer due to disabling injury on duty, they must assess the individual’s degree of disablement. To do this, some engage in an arcane and entirely invented process of comparing what the individual might be able to earn as a disabled former officer, with some other wage.

The ultimate idea is that if the individual could earn as much, or more, after leaving the job, then they would not disabled at all. However, even the most corrupt HR and SMPs tend to be wary of killing the goose which lays the golden eggs, so content themselves with merely manipulating the figures so that the result is a lower injury pension.

Of course, such an approach completely discounts the fact of the injury and the physical and/or mental disablement that the individual has suffered – and will continue to suffer. It has to be remembered that an injury award is only payable where the disablement is determined to be likely to be permanent.

What is at issue is how degree of disablement is arrived at. How HR and SMP collude to come up with a percentage figure.

A quick look at the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 might help understanding.

7-(5) Where it is necessary to determine the degree of a person’s disablement it shall be determined by reference to the degree to which his earning capacity has been affected as a result of an injury received without his own default in the execution of his duty as a member of a police force.

Clearly, most officers apply for an injury pension either shortly before or shortly after they are cast from their force. Equally obvious is the fact that all of them will be have lost their police salary, and it is fair to say that most of them will not have yet actually found a new job, and new earnings.

So, what HR and SMP do is to speculate about an uncertain future, and dream up a scenario where the individual because of their skills, qualifications and experience, might be hired to do a certain job, which pays a certain salary. None of this is reality. It is all maybe and perhaps. Nor is it grounded in practicality. Instead, it is simply assumed, on the thinnest of grounds, that the individual will get a job paying the amount selected.

That in itself is such an unfair and woolly way of looking at earning capacity that it is surprising that it has gained such a foothold in some quarters. We should not be surprised though, because the whole idea of this kind of speculation is to arrive at a degree of disablement which is less than the real circumstances of the injury would otherwise dictate.

If that approach is not bad enough, HR and SMP further collude to ignore the fact that police officers’ pay varies according to where they work. There is a national pay scale, but it is subject to local variation.

Workers in the capital are usually paid higher wages than they would earn elsewhere, as employers have to take account of housing costs and/or commuting costs.

There is increasing concern that the high cost of working in London, and in particular the high cost of housing, makes it difficult to recruit enough staff for the essential services, because people cannot afford to live within a reasonable distance of their work.

A police constable with five years service currently earns a basic salary of £28,098 plus ‘London Weighting’ of £2,373 – that’s some 8.5% more than a colleague in, say, Staffordshire, Merseyside or Northumberland.

The effects of the high cost of working in London spread a considerable way outside the encircling M25. Police officers in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley, Bedfordshire, Hampshire and Sussex all see more in their pay packets than do colleagues in other forces due to something called the South East Allowance. This was introduced in 2001 in recognition of the additional cost of living in the SE of England. Its purpose was to ease issues of recruitment and retention in those forces to which it applied.

So, if HR and SMP chose to compare a high potential wage which they claim the disabled individual could so, in some far-off city, with their former police wage, why do they not take the pay of Metropolitan police officer as the baseline for comparison? And why are overtime payments, which certainly most officers achieve, not added to the calculation?

Some HR and SMPs don’t even use a police wage. They select a nominal figure drawn from data collected by the Office of National Statistics. They seize on an average national wage, which is itself a fantasy, being the result of a 1% sample of the population taken two year’s previously. You don’t need to be a statistician to grasp that an average is pretty meaningless, for in any sample of earnings of a large population, the overwhelming majority will be earning more or less than the average.

What have the HR minions and tame SMPs been doing wrong when they use a heavy dose of wishful thinking to invent the uninjured earning capacity comparator?  Justice Garnham, in Fisher v Northumbria sums up their deliberate mistake nicely:

Since all the claimants appearing before the Board previously worked as police officers, and since the precondition for a claim to an injury award is the fact that the Claimant suffered an injury on duty, the previous police earnings must, it seems to me, at least feature in the Board’s analysis.

Northumbria’s blameworthy brainwave was, as the uninjured Mr Fisher would’ve reached his thirty years, the police salary shall not be the comparator .  They thought wrong.  Those behind the NAMF/NWEF orthodoxy that saw fit to reduce Mr Fisher’s injury pension to a 0% band one never once did justify their position on what Mr Fisher would be earning had he not been injured.  The judge quashed the reduction to the injury pension and surmised that the PMAB:

[…] did not refer to anything evidencing a change in his uninjured earning capacity

The question which still taxes many minds is why their eagerness to find injured comparator jobs in cities with high wages reflecting the inflated cost of living but their consistent unwillingness to look at geographic differences in the uninjured comparator?

We think you can do an immigration job in Heathrow airport”, they say, “but we will use the comparator final salary you had when you retired from Devon & Cornwall Police”.

Justice Garnham continued:

The concept of “earning capacity” in the regulations imports no element of earning prospects and warrants no allowance for market conditions.

In other words, in matters not where the job is – what matters is the person’s ability to do the work.

But if HR are selecting well-paid city jobs and saying the injured officer can perform them in their disabled state, why aren’t they considering higher allowances for non-South East retirees for their uninjured state?

Just because they never served in London or the South East, doesn’t mean they never had the capacity to serve in London or the South East. Police officers can, and do, transfer between forces.  Likewise, if the SMP thinks there is no medical reason why a job in Cardiff can be performed when the former officer resides in Northumberland, where is the medical reason that the alternative uninjured officer couldn’t have progressed up the ranks had the disability not occurred.

This is the realism of the Fisher judicial review.  No longer can the uninjured comparator be, as Justice Garnham put it, based upon vagueness where the:

reasoning on the issue of uninjured earnings capacity is thin in the extreme

The next time a HR minion says you should commute a 600 mile round trip to work in the centre of Cardiff, put to them the question of why they are using a city wage for the job they claim you can do when they aren’t using the South East police salary for the job you can’t do now – but were fully capable of doing when fully fit.

We in IODPA must wonder how many injured and disabled officers were robbed of being paid an injury pension at the highest level – for being totally disabled – at the point of retirement. Surely if an individual has not found work, because they are physically and/or mentally unable to work, then it is wrong to speculate that they could work and earn at some unspecified point in the future?

The Regulations allow for changing circumstances, so if the disabling effects of an individual’s injury substantially improves a year or so after retirement, then the degree of disablement can be put  under review and the amount of pension paid revised accordingly.

The mathematical gymnastics performed with such poor grace but evident crafty nimbleness by HR and SMP are intended to produce a result giving degree of disablement a whole band lower than it should be, and in an increasing number of cases, to deny the grant of an injury award altogether.

Merseyside take contortions of the maths to the extreme with the physics breaking ‘Cirque du Soleil’ manipulations of Peter Owens.  Their questionnaire has the evil voodoo powers of prescience by incomprehensibly figuring out earning capacity in a handful of loaded questions.  When these words of Justice Garnham were read by Merseyside:

The Board simply did not address what the Claimant’s earning capacity would now be if he had not been injured. Even when addressing the possibility that he was suffering from PTSD or his loss of skills, it did so in the context of seeking to determine his injured, not his uninjured, capacity

… their so-called medical retirement officer must have fainted.  Most, if not all, of their degree of disablement calculations are now arguably unlawful and open to a reconsideration.

It’s about time HR minions and give-me-the-money SMPs are made to justify their back-of-the-fag- packet sums. We look forward to further judicial reviews which will build on the case law established in Fisher.

We fully expect that the odious comparisons used by HR and SMPs will be inevitably debunked and demolished. Horse, geese or sheep – their chickens will come home to roost.

Reviews are just like painting the Forth Bridge, claim Merseyside

Reviews are just like painting the Forth Bridge, claim Merseyside

“Painting the Forth Bridge” is a colloquial expression for a never-ending task, coined on the erroneous belief that at one time in the history of the bridge repainting was required and commenced immediately upon completion of the previous repaint.  Such a practice never existed, as weathered areas were given more attention, but there was a permanent maintenance crew.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge

We have to laugh at the brass neck of Merseyside Police. According to Supernintendo Markay & Peter Owens the purpose of injury award reviews is to save money. That’s the stated, written into policy objective of the terrible-twosome who perform the dubious role of Merseyside’s medical retirement officers (MRO). They no doubt think that as soon as they have gone through the list and attempted to tar all IOD pensioners with the same band-one-brush, then hey-ho, it’s time to start up again to continue the misery, until everyone damn lot of them is whittled down to a band one.

The hypothetical question we have to ask is: once all are band one, will they wash the brush with white spirit, put the tar bucket in the shed and then leave the pensioners to peel and blister without applying any new coats ever again?  Will a single disabled former officer be left in peace, or will Merseyside ensure they all are reviewed regularly for the rest of their lives?

Both Markay and Owens are guilty of unleashing a form of barbarism against those injured on duty from this force, on the basis of a misconceived grasp of the Regulations, alternative truth, and spin. They intend, by their review policy to interfere in disabled people’s lives, to maintain them in a state of financial uncertainty, and to subject them to regular intrusive inquisitions, all in the name of their perverted and utterly unsupportable view of what the Regulations require.

They are determined, indeed, required by the force’s policy, which they seem to see as more important that the rule of law, to regularly demand that IOD pensioners declare any 10% increase in earnings. In the strange world occupied by Markay and Owens there is the belief that if someone sees a 10% increase in earnings then their degree of disablement will probably have altered substantially. However, they, very tellingly, have decided not to ask IOD pensioners to report a 10% decrease in earnings. They are not bothered by that inconsistency as fairness is not part of their game plan.

Do you remember this, below excerpt, from a letter penned by Owens to a person with an IOD award?  The bit about a salary increase is in red.  Note well that there’s nothing about a salary decrease.  In Owens’s world it’s a one-way-street with skills, and earnings dictating the degree of disablement. Leaving aside that the Regulations speak of the capacity to earn, not what might result from that capacity, we see again the one-sided, biased, money-saving objective. Gain a skill and your degree of disablement must have increased. No mention of skills eroding over time due to lack of opportunity to keep them honed and current. On this one way street, there is no traffic in the other direction. Skills can be acquired but never lost, earnings can increase but never decrease, co-morbidity can overtake the index injury never the opposite.

During the EU referendum campaign, there were many spurious overblown claims by leavers and remainers which ran fast and loose with the truth. Those scare tactics were but small fry, infinitesimally small fry, in comparison with the guff Markay and Owens are coming out with. For Peter Owens to create a policy to review injury awards and then to crow about the money he saved, whilst neglecting the laws broken and lives ruined, is an affront to truth and decency and reason.  It will cause suicides.  It may have already, we just don’t know all what happens after ‘they’ fire the gun at their target. No self-respecting citizen should put up with it.

We have a copy of Merseyside’s processes for the review of injury awards and it apparently relies heavily on a devoutly orthodox take on NAMF (now NWEF) guidance

Merseyside injury-pension-review-process-dj2016-161
(3 pages – hover cursor & navigate with bottom left arrows)

Advised not to have an age limit for holding reviews by a weasily solicitor plying his trade in Northern police force?  Don’t worry – have a limit anyway.   How can someone who has evidently heard of the word ‘discrimination’, even uttered by someone else, write such tosh?

The advice from the author of the NAMF guidance is that no upper limit should be used due to age discrimination. I have noted that some forces have considered using seventy years of age as an upper limit and to date Merseyside have used a ceiling of 65 years.

For the rolling review program, Merseyside policy ignores band one and focuses it’s attention more forcibly on those that cost the most.  Discrimination incarnate.

As previously reported injury award reviews have been prioritised with Band 4 reviews being undertaken first then Band 3 awards and finally Band 2. Band 1 awards are not subject of this review.

Of course, we regularly say that anything written by Nicholas Wirz automatically disqualifies itself. But it seems Merseyside take the spoutings of NAMF/NFEW that much further.  Take this rotten festering sore of a sentence found in page two:

When considering the implications of example 4 it is inevitable that a large proportion of ex-officers would have their injury awards reduced to Band 1.

Let us translate the above quote lifted from the policy.  They are saying if someone’s index injury has not improved, that if there are no jobs available that were not available or if no new skills are evident, but the former officer has developed cancer, then Merseyside are happy to reduce them to a band one.  Sod the consequences.

What about our more likely, real-life example that avoids Merseyside’s cliff-edge.  A former officer retired with physical injuries who developed a mental illness due to the adverse psychological effects resulting from being physically injured and disabled.  Over the years their injuries got somewhat better but their mental illness progressively worsened.  Should they be reduced to a band one by Merseyside?  Their disability is still a duty injury – they wouldn’t have mental health problems if they had not been injured on duty. It would be unlawful to reduce someone in such a situation, just as it is morally corrupt to reduce an injury pension because a person has cancer or Parkinson’s disease.  Why would Markay and Owens take a different position? … because they are delusional about the Regulations and blinded by their objective to save money, that’s why.

The 2010 Doubtfire (& Williams) judicial review sheds light on the truth that the focus is always on the disability, not the diagnosis.  We will return to Doubtfire & Williams (a dual hearing involving West Mercia and, quelle surprise, Merseyside) in another blog post.

What about the acquisition of skills being a two-way street?  As we mentioned above, Merseyside states that new skills can improve job prospects and thus earnings but nowhere does it say that the loss of skills, by being out of the job market, can reduce earning capacity.  Why is this?  Rhetorical question, of course.  It isn’t mentioned as this doesn’t allow Owens & Markay to work towards reducing all IOD pensioners to a band one.

Is anyone still in any doubt about the Mersyside’s nefarious position that reviews of degree of disablement are a cash-cow to recoup money? Look the last paragraph on page two.

In summary ten per cent of questionnaires sent out at this time have produced ongoing savings of approximately £30,000 per annum. [Exempt information section 40(2) Freedom of information Act, 2000, the personal data exemption].

We haven’t missed the stated implication that the questionnaire has led to the reduction, not the medical decision of a SMP.  Why employ a gun-for-hire SMP when a poxy and fallacious questionnaire combined with the stroke of Owens’s pen can do the dirty deed?

The policy sums up the elitism and arrogance and contempt for Regulations of those who just cannot accept that deserving people were given injury awards.

Wirz, Markay and Owens, and their coterie within the NFEW can’t get their heads around this. They are riddled with prejudice and are dismissive of the rights of disabled folk. They have produced policies and guidance which contravene the Regulations, and have done this not out of simple stupidity, but from a misplaced and wholly erroneous conviction that IOD pensioners need to be continually harassed in an attempt to reduce the impact of injury pensions on forces’ budgets.

Anyone with a brain can see that only a small minority of the people involved must actually believe the tripe that Merseyside uses to justify their position. They go along with it, for the sake of not poking their heads above the parapet. They value their jobs more than their conscience. Nor do those who are the named targets of our criticisms care to attempt a defence. They remain silent and acquiescent, for they dare not do otherwise. Our blogs remain unchallenged, for there is no riposte to the truth.

How can anyone with any knowledge of the Equality Act and the legal requirement for reasonable adjustments think that, just like the idiom of painting the Forth bridge, a future review can be scheduled immediately after the current one has finished?

Merseyside is disdainful of the law, and of the rights of disabled people:

On completion of this initial phase of injury award reviews the process will recommence and will be ongoing with new cases that have received awards in the preceding two years and also the reviews conducted at the start of this process will be due their next review.

Hogwash.

We now must speak in the language of revolution.  We must ‘rise up’. There is need for a ‘revolt’, by ‘force of argument’, against the dangerous madness of the policy espoused by Merseyside.

NARPO and the Police Federation need to take Merseyside to task and join with IODPA in condemning the concept of regular, repeated reviews.

IODPA’s advice to any IOD pensioner caught up in a revolving review program is they should seek redress in an Employment Tribunal for post-employment disability discrimination and subsequent victimisation.

Project Fear

Project Fear

“never to admit a fault or wrong; never to accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time; blame that enemy for everything that goes wrong; take advantage of every opportunity to raise a political whirlwind”
– page 219 Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler: With Predictions of His Future Behaviour and Suggestions for Dealing with Him Now and After Germany’s Surrender, by Henry A. Murray, October 1943

Merseyside’s Project Fear has evolved into Project Threat.  We’ve tried to point them onto a righteous path but they  still do not understand that they cannot threaten to remove an injury award just on the basis of whether or not a questionnaire is completed.

Let us be quite clear for the umpteenth time.  There is no power to punitively revoke an injury award.

Regulation 33 of the Police (Injury) Benefit Regulations states that if there is a negligent or wilful refusal to be medically examined then a decision can be made on the available evidence.   It does not say an award can be taken away as punishment.  In any case this  does NOT apply  to Regulation 37(1) — Reassessment of injury pension — so far as it relates to the statutory duty  placed upon a police pension authority to ‘consider’ whether there has been substantial alteration after a suitable interval.

Only after the police pension authority having considered whether the degree of the pensioners disablement has altered, and a suitable interval has occurred, it MUST then and only then refer the statutory medical question under Regulation 30 (2) (d) –  degree of disablement -to an SMP and, a result, it is only then that Regulation 33 can feasible ever apply.

This is an extract from a threatening letter being sent out to disabled former police officers written by Chief Superintendent Chris Markey, who evidently has never read the Regulations in his life.

remove award

The obvious reply to such a threat is to ask ‘under what power will you use to suspend my injury award?’.    Chief Superintendent Markey would not be able to answer this without either by telling the truth and admitting there is no power or without lying by saying there is and the Regulations permit him to do this (which if you are still in doubt – they don’t). Why would a senior officer debase himself this way?  Would he tell an untruth in a criminal investigation to get what he wants?

The questionnaire is a work of pure villainy.

Mersyeside-questionnaire

Such guff deserves an appropriate response:

Dear Chief SuperNintendo Markey

I recently received a letter from you. Every two years or so I get one. This one suggested that there was an urgent requirement to address the problem of my lack of a questionnaire.

I am sorry, but after all these years my medical condition has not changed, and now I have run out of patience. I understand your need to ensure that people who have an injury award should be considered if there has been substantial change to see if the correct band is being paid, but as someone who never receives a nice and pleasant letter from you just asking ‘how I am and can you help’, I think it’s time you cut me some slack.

I think this and the tone of your letter, and threats of taking my award away, and suggestion that in some way I am a liar is what finally got my goat (I do not actually have a goat either. This is an expression in common usage, although even if I did have a goat I do not believe this amounts to substantial change.)

The questionnaire that you demand of me is rather confusing.  You first ask what my injury is.  Don’t you know?  This seems rather strange.  If you need me to explain it then something is amiss already.

If I answer NO to question 2 and declare that there has been no change then is this farce then over?  Surely you can’t send me to see a SMP if there there  has been no change.  The ‘review’ for all it’s purposes is in effect over.  Or won’t you believe me?

You then ask me to declare medical interventions.  Have you not heard of Chatham House rules? or more colloquially:  What is said to my doctor stays with my doctor.  Putting confidential medical information on a questionnaire that can be read by all and sundry does not seem to the correct way to process personal and confidential information.  The Data Protection Act can be very serious when it comes to medical information.

Throughout the questionnaire you jump from reference to  reference.   Does “your condition” reference back to the “medical condition” referred to at question 1?  Are you surreptitiously trying to determine apportionment in a review!?  Don’t you know you can only consider the degree of disablement.  I hope you aren’t already trying to declare that an unrelated medical condition has overtaken the index injury – in a tatty questionnaire.  Oooh! you are awful!

You then jump to the term “disability”.  Does that phrase simply refer back to the “medical condition” or is it meant to encompass something broader?  If so, what?  You are like a jumping bean, all over the place.

Out of interest have you ever seen the ESA50 form used by the government?  This is to do with applying and reapply for a benefit.  As you know an injury award isn’t a benefit – it is an award for life and the last decision made by the medical authority is final.  But the point is in the ESA50 they don’t just use YES/NO like you’ve done.  They have a ‘it varies’ option.  This is much nicer.  Can I suggest you add it for next time?

I am very puzzled with precisely what way my current ability to drive or ride a motor vehicle or use sporting equipment is relevant to the questions falling for consideration under the Regulations?  I would love it if you could explain this to me.

In like terms, please clarify the relevance of any current annual salary  to the relevant issue for consideration under the Regulations?

At this point I need you to post to me the last questionnaire I filled in and sent you. I can’t remember ever doing this but I may be mistaken.

I would like to see the answers I put. You must have a copy – how else can you compare what I’ve written then to what I might write now?  I do hope you have a copy.  Otherwise this might all be a fresh assessment. And that will be a very naughty thing to do.

Is the question of salary limited to income earned from employment or self-employment or is it meant to encompass income from any source (such as investments)?  This puzzles me. I’ve read and reread the Regulations and can’t see anywhere, anything that gives you authority to be entitled to that information, and how it touches upon the relevant statutory question.

My Great Aunt Bessy died last year (god bless her) and she bequeathed me her house.  I now rent this out.  I can’t see how this affects my capacity to earn.  Sure the rental income is income, but it isn’t earned income.  Could you please help me out with this sticky problem?

As you can see Chief SuperNintendo Markey I do have loads of questions.  I herewith give you 21 days to reply.  If you fail to reply I may take action to suspend any doubt that you are an idiot.

This is not an action that I would usually wish to take

Yours Sincerely and with love

XX

 

 

 

 

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...