Blog & News Page
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As you are only to well aware, things aren’t going well at Stormont. This has had the knock on effect in relation to the victims Pension but we have been told that it is still in discussion and as soon as we hear anything, we will inform our members.
We recently ran an Injury On Duty workshop which was hosted by the N.Ireland Retired Police Officers Association. This was a very well attended and informative meeting introducing Ron Thompson Solicitor.
Ron has been very active in helping injured officers throughout the UK with their injury on duty awards and is keen to speak with anyone who feels that their awards should be higher, or those who have had their awards reduced or any queries in relation to their IOD pension.
If you feel this relates to you or you know someone who this might relate to, please contact the DPOA Office and we will try and point you in the right direction.
Lets get the word out.
The current board of directors of the DPOA are looking for people with experience in finance or who have experience of working within charities to help with the running of the office and applying for funding.
New Arrangements for Selected Medical Practitioner Services
The Northern Ireland Policing Board is putting in place new arrangements for the provision of Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) services for the Board to fulfil its statutory responsibility for administering applications from current and former police officers for ill health retirement and injury awards set out in the Regulations . The Board is currently appointing Occupational Health Practitioners to act as the SMP whose role is to conduct all medical assessments in respect of ill health and injury on duty award applications.
Since 2003 the Board has contracted out the SMP role of conducting the reassessment processes on behalf of the Board. The current contract is due to expire on 30 September 2016. By October 2016 the Board will have established an approved list of service providers to act as SMP. This approved list of SMPs will be continually live and will be made available to all former and serving officers who apply. The approved list will also be maintained and published on the Board’s website. From this list they can select who they wish to undertake their assessment, provided that they have not been assessed and/or treated by that SMP before.
All assessment appointments will take place in specifically designed facilities at the Board’s premises in Clarendon Dock Belfast. It is anticipated appointments under these new arrangements will commence in October/November 2016.
As part of these new arrangements all files and related materials held by the current contractor (SMP) will be transferred and held securely in accordance with our obligations under Data Protection Act.
For further information on any aspect of the scheme please view the Board’s website or contact the Board directly on 02890 408500.
A pension for the injured victims of the Troubles
You will be aware there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the introduction of a pension for victims of the troubles. This has been highlighted in the media and ongoing research has been taking place on behalf of the government of Northern Ireland.
The research has been carried out in line with the Government’s intention to deal successfully with matters relating to ‘The Legacy of the Past’. Many factors have been considered and the Governments of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been actively involved in consulting with the numerous victims’ groups involved. To this end the DPOANI have spoken to many of those directly involved in the implementation of reconciliation and reparation processes.
The introduction of a pension for victims is just one strand being considered and only the classification of victims and who and how it will be assessed and awarded has to be clarified before a final decision will be made. We have been informed that this pension could and should be awarded before the end of this year if all groups accept and the outstanding issues.
To this end two potential schemes have been narrowed down from an original suggestion of two.
International Law including but not limited to, the European Convention on Human Rights, numerous stated cases within Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the rest of the world have been studied and must be recognised in any progress to settling these matters.
I will try to outline the two schemes as simply as possible without too much detail as the paperwork is extensive. We have been in consultation this week with a senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast who has been charged with consulting with numerous victims’ groups including WAVE and ourselves.
I would ask you to read over the two possibilities and question yourself honestly about which outcome is likely to satisfy the majority of victims, as well as which is likely to satisfy the vast majority of citizens within Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The decision must have a chance of satisfying not just some, but everybody and lead to a stable future for all of us in the long term and not just the immediate future.
1. Non Discriminatory Approach
This is where no distinction in relation to Victims and Survivors, between civilians, security force members, or paramilitaries. This is consistent within human rights legislation.
In this instance the right to a pension or award might be reduced or refused if the person concerned was actively involved in the commission, preparation or planning of a criminal act.
2. Review Panel
A Review Panel would be set up to decide whether any award or pension was justified. This would include those mentioned above however, it would exclude those with a ‘serious criminal conviction’. The following would also be considered in respect of those involved to include whether they have shown remorse for the offence, assisted in any investigation into the crime, or where a victim has died, the views of the close members of the family. Time served, gravity of offences, their level of disability etc. Therefore, those involved in serious criminal acts might also have any award reduced or withdrawn completely, based on a scale.
(a) Those who have suffered physical injury(s) as a result of the Troubles
(b) The injury has resulted in disablement
(c) If agreed those convicted of a serious criminal offence would be excluded or receive a reduced or nil award.
Part © will be decided upon which option outlined at 1. And 2. Above.
The following will be considered by any review panel or process is initiated.
1. The level of injury and degree of disablement
2. Requirements for the provision of care.
It has been suggested that a person is entitled to a Victim’s Pension if
(a) Suffered injury as a result of an unlawful conflict-related incident and
(b) Suffers serious disablement as a result of that injury.
For the purpose of this, serious disablement means
(a) At least 40 % impairment by comparison with those without the injury or
(b) Chronic pain associated with performing actions compared to persons without the injury.
I must stress that physical injury includes psychological injury.
Also the pension is not means tested, I am not aware as yet whether it will be tax deductible, or will any retrospection occur.
This must have occurred in Northern Ireland.
May be awarded to a person not living in Northern Ireland.
A Carer’s Pension may also be introduced where the person injured has died.
Please give me your thoughts in relation to the two processes proposed. Further details will be forwarded as soon as they are available.
EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT ALLOWANCE
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) replaced Incapacity Benefit (IC) in 2008
Under schedule 3 of the 2006 Regs there is a list of allowances which are deductible from an IoD Pension. IC was on this schedule but ESA was never placed on it.
Despite this Pensions Branch decided to deduct it anyway.
After a long battle NIPB have now instructed Pensions Branch to cease deductions of EAS wef 1st May 2016.
The good news is that members receiving ESA will have seen a rise in their IoD pensions from 1st May.
The bad news is that the Dept. of Justice, will at some stage request MLA’s to pass a regulation making ESA a deductible allowance.
We have been assured by NIPB that when this happens there will be no retrospection back to May 2016. There has been no comment from NIPB on our request in respect of payments from 2008 to May 2016.
Rest assured that the Injury on Duty Sub-Committee will monitor the situation closely, including Home Office Rulings. Depending on what legislation is put in place, will determine our future actions.
We will ensure our members get the best possible results.
A number of calls have been received at the office in relation to events. Because of the investigation carried out by the Charity Commission we where unable to apply for funding. Now that we have received the all clear we can now apply for funding, a number of us have been working hard to put together a list of events, which is now in with the funders for their consideration. When we hear back from them we will be writing out to all our members with those events we have secured funding for.
One date you should take note of is our AGM, it is set for the 8th September 2016 at Newfordge Country Club Belfast, you will also receive a notification of this in the post.
The Association is pleased to inform it’s members that one of are Board of Directors Joe Haveron, has kindly offered to assist any member who has difficulty in getting to Hospital appointments. But as he is in great demand, this service is not guaranteed.
If you find yourself needing assistance, please contact the office in plenty of time to give us the chance to organise this for you.
The Disabled Police Officers Association was formed in 1983, the objective being to promote the relief and benefit of the members of the DPOANI, who had received personal injury whether physical or mental whilst serving in the RUC, RUCR, or PSNI by the provision of rehabilitation with the object of preserving and protecting the health of and improving the conditions of it’s members.
The criteria to become a member was that a member must have received a permanent serious injury whilst on duty. The injury must be assessed by the Force Medical Officer to a degree of not less than 35% or 20% by the Industrial Injuries Board of the Social Services.
Because of Charity registration purposes our membership criteria has had to change to meet current regulations. On the 28th October 2015 an EGM was held at the Silverbirch Hotel Omagh, at which amendments to the article of association where passed, by a majority of those attending.
Membership of the DPOANI is now open to any Officer who suffers from an illness whether physical or mental and does not have to be as a result of an injury on duty. It is hoped that we can attract new members and welcome back those members who had to leave the association while we where in the process of working with the statutory bodies, who helped us with our restructuring.
Anyone interested in becoming a member, should apply to the office for a membership form. As well as your Police details we will need either your injury on duty confirmation, Industrial Injuries Board details or a letter from your Doctor confirming your illness. Although the office is not manned full-time, you can leave your details on our answer phone, email us or write in and someone from the Board of Directors will be in touch.
In a recent article in the Belfast Telegraph it was alledged that the DPOANI had illegally obtained the personal emails and text messages of certain individuals. Any texts and messages obtained by the charity where as a result of having to employ a computer company, to access DPOANI computers and mobile. required to allow us to carry out the day to day running of office.
Both the PSNI and Charity Commisson have confirmed that this was done legally. At no point was anything obtained shared with anyone who was not legally entitiled to view the information.
The Board of Directors can confirm that no members detailes have been divuldged as stated in this artcle.