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Don't compare' injuries to officers in NI with the mainland says Fed


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Audit Office calls for major changes to Injury on Duty payments scheme following comparisons with England and Wales.


No force in England has more than 650 IoD awards in payment

Date - 11th March 2020
By - Gary Mason

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland says a report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office into Injury on Duty payments to officers is disappointing and unfair.

The report says that the Northern Ireland scheme is ‘unsustainable’ without significant changes and compares it to the on duty injuries scheme in England and  Wales.

The Audit Office report says the Northern Ireland Policing Board receives an average of 12 claims per week.

The Metropolitan Police Service, with over 30,000 officers, receives around 20 applications each year.

No force in England has more than 650 'active' IoD awards in payment, while there are more than 2,800 in Northern Ireland, it adds

But PFNI Chair, Mark Lindsay, said officers who lost limbs, are disfigured or who suffer from PTSD or hearing loss should not be “thrown onto the scrapheap or left to fend for themselves with no means of income.”

Mr Lindsay said: “It is apples and pears to compare policing in Northern Ireland with policing in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, particularly through the seventies, eighties and nineties, officers were targeted for murder.

“We have seen many cases of post-traumatic stress, which you don’t see elsewhere, so therefore the comparison is absolutely ridiculous.

“Two thousand, eight hundred officers received Injury on Duty awards which tells me that Northern Ireland had unique policing circumstances. It tells me of the danger officers faced day and daily and, as a result, they received some life-changing injuries.

“The report fails to take into account that unique policing environment here. Police officers have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities and incidents anywhere in the world and I think this payment scheme reflects that.

“There is nothing to support the view that payments to former and serving officers have been over-generous. In fact, there has been a culture of under-paying people for many years.

“The scheme is there to compensate people who’ve received injury at work and who are, in many cases, unable to work again. Many of the injuries they sustained are more commonly seen in war zones.

“It is totally wrong to say that, as a cost-saving exercise, officers should now be treated unfairly. We don’t feel that the awards are in the slightest bit excessive.”

In his report the Comptroller and Auditor General, Kieran Donnelly CB said that ‘substantial changes’ are necessary if the schemes are to be affordable in the future and that the current review of the Prison Service scheme should be joined by a similar, fundamental review of the PSNI scheme.

“The end to end process for the PSNI scheme needs to be simplified and streamlined with reconsideration given to the respective roles of the PSNI, the Policing Board and the Department of Justice. In the interim, the public bodies involved should take action to address the most urgent issues,” he said.

The report said that both schemes have seen costs soar over the last five years, with £33.9 million spent by PSNI and £2.3 million by the Northern Ireland Prison Service in 2018-19. Total liabilities are estimated at £488 million for the PSNI and £53 million for the Prison Service.

Among the report’s other findings were:  

The PSNI scheme is complex and challenging to administer. While the PSNI is responsible for the budget, the Northern Ireland Policing Board is responsible for the overall administration of the scheme and the Department of Justice is responsible for the legislative framework and for co-ordinating medical appeals.

The payment of injury awards is not always equitable. Someone of pension age with an IoD award could earn more than another officer with a retirement pension.

There are no time limits within which an application must be made. Backdated awards have a significant impact on the spend as they involve payment of arrears of the award from the date of the injury. One example in 2018-19 dated back 25 years and cost £429,000 in arrears alone.

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