Home Office Circular 46/2004 (HOC 46/2004), published on 9th August 2004, provided guidance to police forces in England and Wales in respect of Injury on Duty (IOD) Awards. It stated that once a former officer reached compulsory retirement age the force should consider a review of the award payable, since it is no longer appropriate to use police pay as the uninjured salary. A section was also included for review of IOD Awards when former officers reach 65 years of age. It advised forces had the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band as they would not normally be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market past State Pension Age. Northern Ireland Office Circular 6/2007, published 30th May 2007, replicated the guidance in HOC 46/2004.
HOC 46/2004 was successfully challenged in the case of Simpson, judgment delivered in February 2012. The section in Home Office Circular 46/2004 headed “Review of Injury Pensions Once Officers Reach Age 65” and paragraph 20 of the Guidance on Medical Appeals were declared inconsistent with the Regulations and unlawful. As a result the same section in Circular 6/2007 was withdrawn by the Department of Justice (DOJ), who had taken over from the NIO following devolution, in March 2012.
In December 2013, the Board was notified that judicial review proceedings in the case of Slater, had resulted in the Home Office withdrawing the section of HOC 46/2004 that dealt with reviews of IOD Awards at compulsory retirement age. The Department of Justice subsequently withdrew the reciprocal section of Annex A of Circular 6/2007.
Following a number of concerns raised by former officers and various representative groups a decision was taken by the Board in March 2013 to suspend the review of IOD awards. A working group chaired by the Board’s Chief Executive and comprising various stakeholders was also established.
In July 2013, the Board agreed to engage Senior Counsel to review the Board’s existing administrative process within the current statutory and policy framework. Mr David Scoffield QC was appointed to carry out the review. Terms of reference for the review were provided to Mr Scoffield QC.
Mr Scoffield QC completed the review in November 2014 and his report was considered at the Board meeting on 4 December 2014. Members agreed to adopt the report and to publish Chapters 1 and 14 on the Board’s website. Following an internal review of a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the full report the decision was taken to publish the full report.
A presentation on the Scoffield review was provided to representative organisations and individuals on 17 December 2014. Some limited notes of the meeting were taken, however, please note the limited nature of these notes. The expectation was that the recording of the meeting would be transcribed and published on the Board's website, along with the presentation slides and Chapters 1 &14 of the Scoffield report.
An update letter was issued to a number of individuals who have corresponded with the Board on issues contained within the review report. The Board, along with key stakeholders, will require time to work through the recommendations contained in the report.
The Board has written out to all former officers who were reviewed on reaching 65 years of age to provide an update on the position of their case. A further letter has also been issued to interested parties to advise of the progress made in relation to a number of recommendations from the Scoffield report.
There have been a number of enquiries from former officers who were reviewed on reaching 65 years of age and subsequently reduced in banding, as to whether any arrears paid following reconsideration under Regulation 31(2) will include interest. The Chief Executive has determined each case will be decided on its merits and where interest is agreed it will be paid at the Bank of England base rate, in line with Pension Ombudsman directions.
In line with Recommendation 8 of the Scoffield report, the Board has drafted a new policy on the assessment of degree of disablement in order to make the process simpler for medical practitioners. The new policy has been introduced for all assessments conducted with effect from 12 August 2015.
An action plan has been drafted by the Board, with input from DOJ, setting out how the remaining findings and recommendations of the report will be addressed. Whilst these actions are being worked through, the Board will not be in a position to take calls or deal with correspondence on areas covered in the Scoffield report until the significant legislative and policy issues, as identified in the report, are addressed.
As matters develop, updates will be posted on the Board’s website.