Superintendent Markay

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.