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 to answer. 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.

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