Future Police Budget Cuts

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Future Police Budget Cuts

Post by Beachcomber on Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:41 am


Whatever happens on the political front in the next few months, I think we can expect IOD pensions to continue to be a prime target for forces looking to reduce costs.

It has been generally quiet for some time but we can be sure that forces will be looking for ways that might enable them to reduce IOD pensions and get away with it. The authorities should not forget that their HOC46/2004 'blitzkrieg' on IOD pensions failed spectacularly and that was likely to be their best shot. Doubtless they will continue to cook up schemes to justify reductions but, given the recent history of this issue, it is likely that their efforts will met with much suspicion, not only with IOD's but the Courts and Pensions Ombudsman etc.

The 'one size fits all' approach that was tried in relation to reductions to band one at SRA and the use of ASHE as comparator at CRA was unlawful so it is reasonable to expect that forces will resort to attempting reductions by manipulating the review process on an individual basis, possibly by novel interpretations of Regulations, possibly by introduction of additional or spurious criteria in order to  skew calculation of lower bandings, certainly they will use concoctions such as the police earnings matrix and we can expect attempts at intimidation of IOD's.
Some of the questionnaires that have been sent out by some forces are clearly intended to intimidate recipients. Demands for irrelevant information, short time scales and threats of prosecution for failing to supply information are completely unnecessary, they were never required previously and such measures are not required now. There are absolutely no reasons why forces cannot conduct these procedures in a reasonable and professional manner. Unfortunately we live in a world where some police forces appear to have 'soft peddled' on serious criminal matters and, in some cases, failed to act at all, where the offences have apparently had minority, ethnic or religious connotations. There is nothing in IOD pensions that would throw any doubt on the politically correct credentials of police forces, so we are fair game. The adverse effects of insensitive review procedures on the health of IOD pensioners in general and those with psychological conditions in particular are well known to the authorities and should they continue conducting reviews which put pensioners under such pressure, does rather indicate that it is intentional!

We have some  very negative reports from IOD pensioners who have been reviewed in some of the forces that have recently  recommenced reviews. A few have commented on reviews that were carried out in a professional and acceptable manner but there have been a number of complaints of insensitive even aggressive treatment, SMP's who are dismissive of the concerns of the pensioner and unpleasant in their manner.

SMP's used to be trusted individuals and their professionalism and impartiality was never doubted. Since HOC46/2004 that has changed very much for the worse and some SMP's have earned a very bad reputation amongst IOD's. Part of the problem appears to be that the SMP is being asked to make judgements that many are unhappy with (see the comments in the Scoffield Report).  The SMP is probably quite happy to make a fair assessment of disability based on the medical condition - that is probably not a difficult task for an experienced and qualified doctor and, if the patient (the IOD) is properly involved in the process, providing it is fair, it is highly likely the IOD would accept the assessment.  Making an assessment of disability based on 'earnings capacity' is another matter because it involves so much imprecise input - you might say 'guesswork' or criteria designed and intended to reduce entitlement, possibly dreamed up by someone in an HR department.  In so many cases, it looks as though the SMP is just a person lending their qualifications to a clerk in HR!   If I was a doctor, I wouldn't allow my impartiality, independence or ethics to be compromised.

The position of the SMP is likely to become much more controversial as the situation develops. There have been indications that some forces may try to shift the status of the SMP into more of a judicial, rather than a medical function. Whatever happens, there are going to be some very robust challenges.

Some of those who were affected when HOC46/2004 was first implemented have sadly passed on. The youngest of those affected by the provisions at CRA are now in their late sixties and the youngest of those affected at SRA are approaching their mid seventies. Although we can see no end to this, the resolve of IOD's hasn't diminished and there is a clear intention to fight on until we can fight no more.  With pressure on injury pensions likely to continue apace, we are now seeing many new younger IOD's becoming involved and bringing new energies and approaches to the battle.

Whatever police forces, Namf, Police College or Home Office dream up, we have to continue to challenge at every stage, review, reconsideration, PMAB, Pensions Ombudsman or Judicial Review.

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