Previous SMP Recommendation of No Further Reviews

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Previous SMP Recommendation of No Further Reviews

Post by Beachcomber on Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:44 am

One question that continually crops up is from IOD's who had undergone reviews, notably prior to HOC46/2004, and have been told that they would not be reviewed again and then, often many years  later, are recalled for further reviews.

I suppose that it can be argued that the SMP was only 'recommending' no further reviews or even that the SMP did not have the authority to cease the review process. After all the Regulations say the following:

“Reassessment of injury pension 37.—(1)

Subject to the provisions of this Part, where an injury pension is payable under these Regulations, the police authority shall, at such intervals as may be suitable, consider whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered; and if after such consideration the police 22 authority find that the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has substantially altered, the pension shall be revised accordingly”

However. When the SMP decided that the review process was complete, he or she must have been certain that such a decision was within their power. Furthermore, those decisions were backed by policy. In my own case, I was told at the time of retirement that the Police Authority had discretion regarding reviews and that it was their policy to review annually for a period of years after which the pensioner would not be called for review again unless they requested further review, perhaps as a result of a worsening index injury.

Whether the SMP had to power to terminate the review process or not, and whether the Police Authority were correct in their IOD policies, that is how it worked and IOD's could then focus on getting on with their lives, often for many years before they were shocked to find themselves subjected to a heartless and calculated resumption of reviews intended to cut the cost of IOD pensions without any regard for the pensioners. We all know that the guidance behind was eventually declared unlawful but we are still threatened by a system intent to use any means to reduce the cost of police injury pensions.

A recommendation from the SMP that the pensioner should not be reviewed again would have been made in good faith and in accordance with PA and force policies which were accepted as being in accordance with the Regulations. It is, at the very least, extremely unfair that IOD pensioners who has completed the review process in accordance with the policies in force at that time should then be subject to the imposition of any further reviews.

As we are all aware, the SMP decision is regarded as 'final', so why have so many 'final' SMP decisions recommending 'no further reviews' been overturned by police authorities?

The Scoffield Report in Northern Ireland touched on this aspect of the IOD situation in it's recommendations:

(e) Those officers who were told in clear terms that they would not be subject to review, or words to that effect, should not be further reviewed in the absence of a request from them or some compelling reason why a review is considered appropriate (such a reason not to include merely their attainment of a particular age). SMPs and IMRs should not be precluded in future from designating a case as one for no further review but this should occur only very rarely and guidance should be formulated for them as to when this may be appropriate.

Some forces did recognise the unfairness or even dishonesty in recalling pensioners in these circumstances and made some allowances in their policies, just as some recognised that those IOD who had retired early in service and had not been able to earn a 'normal' police pension also needed to have additional consideration. However, with the moving goalposts set in shifting sand in IOD matters, as police pension administrators and their advisers continue to seek ways to reduce IOD pension costs, those considerations appear to have been discarded.

Some forces have insisted that the inclusion of  the word 'shall' ( 'shall, at such intervals as may be suitable etc.') places a statutory duty upon them to conduct reviews, yet the regulation makes no distinction between the four bands and therefore all should be reviewed -  oddly they do not appear to apply this criteria to those on Band One, although some may try to brush this aside by stating that those on Band One may apply for review – clearly this discrimination does not amount to a review and their contention of a mandatory statutory duty to review IOD's is undermined.

Where IOD pensions and reviews are concerned, police forces are rarely consistent. Some don't review and others do. Policies are diverse although they are supposedly regulated. Policies are devised, not to provide the correct level of pension, but to arrive at the lowest level of pension. Policies continually change and the pensioner is just a pawn. There always seems to be a 'catch 22' in all they do.

Has anyone any knowledge of any instance when 'previously been told that the individual would not be reviewed' again hs been put forward as part of an appeal, Pensions Ombudsman case or Judicial Review?

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