A Brief History.
The first part of our history section briefly covers Home Office Circular 46/2004 and the guidance to Police Authorities contained within Annex C that encouraged them to reduce Injury on Duty (IOD) pensions to the minimum banding for pensioners who had reached the state retirement age (then 65 years) and to reassess the IOD pensions of those reaching compulsory retirement age (60 years) by applying National Average Earnings (NAE) as comparator instead of police earnings. HOC46/2004 was eventually declared unlawful and withdrawn.
The second part of our history section concerns the ongoing situation following the demise of HOC46/2004 up until the present time.
Please also see our News section archives which provide a detailed record of how the subject has developed since 2009.
A Brief History
Part One. 2004 - 2014. Home Office Circular 46/2004
Please also see “Annex C - An Inconvenient Lie”
A change in the way that police pensions were funded apparently led to the Home Office, who, in Annex ‘C’ of it’s circular 46/2004 issued guidance to Police Authorities concerning the pensions paid to those former police officers who, through no fault of their own, had been injured in the course of their duties and had been forced to retire.
Injury on duty pensions are awarded in accordance with regulations. The guidance suggested that the authorities could review those pensions in novel ways which had no foundation in the appropriate regulations. Notably, the guidance introduced age related reviews which, at compulsory retirement age, suggested that the injury pension should be calculated using national average earnings, instead of police pay. It also suggested that once the pensioner reached the state retirement age the injury pension could be reduced to it’s lowest level irrespective of the level of disability. These measures had a profound effect on the incomes of injured former officers and their families, many pensioners losing several thousand pounds per annum.
Individuals opposed the attack on their incomes and eventually gained considerable success culminating in early 2012 in the provisions relating to reductions at state retirement age being declared unlawful and withdrawn by the Home Office.
In the autumn of 2012 the Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire produced a new injury policy which was accepted by his force. This policy was seen as a very positive move and has been generally welcomed by former officers. The author of the policy was said to have taken the lead within the Association of Chief Police Officers for injury policy. It was therefore thought possible that the Cambridge policy could form the basis of policy nationally. However in the spring of 2013, this looked less likely when draft guidance was produced by the National Attendance Management Forum. There are elements of this new guidance that appear to be more concerned with cost savings than pensioner entitlements under the Regulations. At the time of writing, the Home Office position on future Injury policy and guidance is not known..
Finally in February 2014, the guidance relating to reviews at compulsory retirement age and the use of average earnings as comparator were declared unlawful and withdrawn.
A Brief History Part Two. 2014 -
Police Forces have some discretion and are entitled to formulate their own policies which must comply with the Regulations. The guidance is not compulsory and has no legal authority. The Courts have previously been very clear and critical of forces attempting to save money at the expense of their injured pensioners.
In late 2013 some forces notified IOD pensioners of their intention to restart reviews. Although they claim that the reviews would be carried out strictly in accordance with Regulations, it is clear that some forces intend to introduce novel criteria into the process.
In 2014 a number of forces had started reviews .
It is also apparent that, in one force, which adopted a more enlightened policy, some of the old ways were creeping back with evidence of unlawful practice in the conduct some aspects of the process. At this stage it is not known if this results from policy or simply ignorance and lack of professionalism.
In 2014 we became aware of correspondence between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon & Somerset and the Home Office which revealed an appalling attitude towards injured ex officers by the PCC. The tone of that correspondence motivated many ex officers including serving officers and this ultimately lead to the formation of IODPA the following year. Also in 2014 the Northern Ireland Scoffield Report conducted by Mr David Scoffield QC examined the IOD process independently and in great detail and made a number of recommendations, acceptance of which has greatly improved the circumstances of injured ex officers.
In 2015 the formation of IODPA has created an organisation that encompasses a much wider membership with a large proportion of enquiries coming from serving officers. Previously, it had mainly been older ex officers affected by HOC46/2004 that had taken up the challenge, but they are now joined by younger retired IOD’s and also serving officers who have suffered injury in the course of duty.
In recent years serious concerns have been raised concerning the impartiality and independence of Selected Medical Practitioners with many IOD’s expressing their distrust following SMP reports which dilute the true nature of injuries and do not equate to the diagnosis and opinions of the specialists who have been actually treating the IOD patients.
It would appear that many forces are not conducting IOD reviews whilst a few are. Late in 2016 we understand that the Metropolitan Police have ceased reviews and that Cambridgeshire have largely ceased.
Although numbers are fewer, Pensions Ombudsman determinations still trickle through. The majority of determinations are upheld in the favour of the IOD pensioner and it is apparent from findings of maladministration that the culture within forces, in particular their HR departments, even after so many years and so much criticism seem unable to achieve an acceptable standard.
The Police Dependents Trust commissioned a project which was carried out by the University of Surrey. The final report was published in 2016 and the report can be downloaded from this link: Injury on Duty Project Former Police Officers Final Report.
By the summer of 2017 there have been further developments. The Fisher Judicial Review involving a Northumbria pensioner clarified further aspects and later, during a judicial review process, Merseyside abandoned an unlawful suspension of an IOD pension in a case involving medical records and information demanded by the force in their IOD review questionnaire, thus clarifying further points of issue. In an unexpected development, Avon and Somerset suddenly ceased their planned review programme apparently following the lead of the Metropolitan Police and Cambridgeshire. Elsewhere it appears that Staffordshire intend to continue with a mass review programme. Northumbria, we understand, will continue to pursue IOD pension reviews. Derbyshire indicated that they would commence a review programme in the spring of 2017 but nothing further is known by mid summer IODPA, the dedicated police injury on duty organisation set up by IOD ex officers has assimilated the pioneering work of the pensioners who successfully opposed HOC46/2004 and continues to grow. The organisation which is awaiting full charitable status is now involved in a wide spectrum of IOD issues and increasingly includes issues affecting serving officers.
In 2017 IODPA gained charity status and the association expanded, becoming very proactive. Although the overall situation remained relatively quiet, the legal challenges continued. Current developments will shape how future reviews are administered and conducted with a recent Employment Court ruling that Section 61 Employment Act 2010 applies to IOD pensions. There are also data protection considerations and IODPA are exploring how we are affected by developments. The provision of medical records and other information has been clarified. Police Pension Authorities have previously demanded information usually in the form of a questionnaire accompanied by the threat to cancel the IOD pension if the pensioner does not comply. Following a recent Merseyside case, it is likely that pensioners will be adopting a very robust stance in opposing demands for information. The Information Commissioner has also recently ruled in relation to medical records held by forces and, as a result, many IOD’s have requested that their forces return any medical records that they hold.
Some forces were conducting reviews in 2017 with Staffordshire commencing a review programme which became controversial, late in 2017 the SMP contracted by Staffordshire to conduct reviews suddenly withdrew his services stating that the work was highly contentious and stressful.
In January 2018 Essex Police contacted IOD's informing them that they were starting reviews.
In May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation came into force giving individuals greater control over the personal data held and processed by businesses and other organisations. The Information Commissioner has previously been involved in IOD issues and has ruled against forces who have been holding unnecessary and excessive data on IOD's. The new regulation is certain to have implications upon the personal data held by forces on IOD's and we can expect a great deal of developments in this area as the law becomes more defined. Most forces have not communicated with their IOD's at the time of writing (June 2018) apart from Northumbria Police who have written to all it's retired officers regarding it's GDRP policy and IOD's report that the letter appears to infer that there could be a negative impact on the processing of pensions of those who do not wish to consent to the personal data that the force wishes to hold on them. This is clearly an issue appears to go against the whole rational of the GDRP.
The summer of 2018 saw the review programme in Staffordshire being continued apparently using yet another SMP. THe Chief Constable is reported to have written to IOD's inviting them to a meeting where he would "explain the next stage of the process" specifically with regard to Reg 33. Although the Chief Constable invited IOD's to be accompanied by their own representatives, he declined to allow members from our legal team to attend the meeting which we understand was subsequently cancelled. Mr Gareth Morgan has been Chief Constable of Staffordshire since June 2017, he was previously DCC at Avon and Somerset, a force which has a certain history in IOD matters. It is noted that the Avon and Somerset force wrote to it's IOD members in June 2017 informing them that it has ceased it's automatic IOD review programme!
The subject of data protection is retaining a high profile following the introduction of the new GDRP in the Spring and many IOD's in a number of forces have expressed their deep concerns about the quality, accuracy and security of the personal data held by their forces. These concerns have been substaniated in cases where it has been found that the informaton held has been excessive, uneccessary, inaccurate and, in some cases, data relating to other people has been released. In August 2018 the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) published a Data Protection Audit Report on Staffordshire Police. The audit identified a number a 'weaknesses' and a number of recommendations were made by the iCO. IODPA have identified data protection issues to be of high priority following the experiences of many members and has commissioned GDRP training courses conducted by a leading law firm. At the time of writing there are a number of data protection issues being examined.
Late in November 2018, Staffordshire Chief Constable Gareth Morgan wrote to nineteen IOD pensioners informing seventeen of them that their IOD pensions would be reduced. This follows on from the events during the summer (see above) when the CC acting as PPA threatened to invoke Regulation 33 - which he has now done. This predictable action has once again resulted in pensioners being forced to defend their IOD pensions and, at the time of writing, meetings and consultations with the legal team are being arranged. This will move things along and the Regulations will be clarified when the issue is subjected to judicial scrutiny.
Shortly after the above letter was sent, the force decided that no reductions would be made before January 2019, This leaves an impression that the initial decision had not been fully thought out!
The Thames Valley NARPO Newsletter announced in January 2019 that the Thames Valley Police would be starting to review its IOD pensioners. There are no details of the policy other than it would be in compliance with the Regulations and was not a money saving exercise (it is noted that such assertions have been made previously by other forces and have sadly fallen short, hence have to be taken with 'a pinch of salt'. However, the main IOD representative organisation IODPA has positively reacted in the claim that such reviews are to be conducted fairly. Our experiences have taught us that it would be folly to accept claims of compliance and fairness at face value. Trust has to be earned.
At the start of February 2019, the seventeen Staffordshire IOD's who were subject to the proposed Reg. 33 reassessment were notified of the reasons for the reassessment of their IOD pensions forcing the affected pensioners into a legal challenge.
The case was finally heard in July 2020 and unfortunately the judgement went against the pensioners. In November 2020, the charity representing IOD's is seeking to further this case, please see Bad Law (Appeal for Justice) for further information.
For injured ex police officers the uncertainty and anxiety continues.
There has been no indication that the Home Office will be issuing further guidance at present.