Select Committee on Home Affairs First Special Report




Criteria for ill-health retirement

1.  The police service should not lose the skills and experience of officers who are still able to make a valuable contribution. Officers should not therefore have to retire on medical grounds unless it is necessary.

2.  An assumption that there may be an entitlement to an ill-health pension because an officer is unable to carry out full operational duties can create an unhealthy climate of expectation. There should accordingly be clarity about the criteria for medical retirement and about where responsibility lies for final decisions on medical retirement.

3.  To this end, the PNB will issue joint guidance during 2002:

(a)  Reinforcing the fact that it is senior management and the police authority and not medical advisers who ultimately decide on medical retirements;

(b)  Advising on the interpretation and application of "ordinary duties" with a view to ensuring wherever possible the retention of officers in service where they are still capable of undertaking sufficient duties to justify continuing employment;

(c)  Clarifying that "permanent disablement" should be interpreted as meaning that the officer will not be able to work again as a police officer before the compulsory retirement age for the officer concerned, on the assumption that normal medical treatment for the officer's condition is applied in the meantime;

(d)  To advise on the questions that should be put to selected medical practitioners (SMP);

(e)  To advise that the two circumstances (in addition to those in 3(b) above) where discretion not to proceed with a medical retirement is most likely to be used are:

    • where an officer who qualifies for medical retirement wishes to remain in service and the force wishes to retain him or her;

    • where an officer faces disciplinary proceedings and medical retirement is set aside so that those proceedings can continue in all but the most exceptional cases.

4.  In addition, the Police Pensions Regulations will be amended:

    • to remove the distinction between the duties of male and female officers;

    • to include a definition of "infirmity" as a disease or medical condition, including a psychiatric disease or condition;

    • to add a new proviso to Regulation A20 to require police authorities in making their determinations to give due consideration to all the circumstances and advice and information available to them.

Unacceptable attendance

5.  The Sides agree to discuss poor attendance management through the Police Advisory Boards during 2002, taking cognisance of ACAS Guidance, tailored to the requirements of the police service; and to come to an arrangement through amendments to Police Efficiency Regulations where the aim is to secure improvement in attendance, with sanctions (including the possibility of dismissal) where that fails. The arrangement will include an appropriate appeals mechanism.

Strategies for effective management of medical retirement

6.  Police authorities will develop in consultation with staff associations strategies for the effective management of medical retirement that set out the roles and responsibilities of both the force and authority and that place sickness management, occupational health provision and medical retirement in the wider context of effective career management and operational effectiveness.

7.  The strategy should also set out the duties and responsibilities of the force medical adviser (FMA) and the support that management will give to the FMA.

Sick pay within a strategy for managing sickness absence

8.  It is recognised that (subject to amendment of Police Regulation 46) the Police Regulations already provide adequate powers for chief officers to exercise discretion over the question of paid sick leave in the interests of supporting or encouraging rehabilitation. Use should be made of this discretion in appropriate cases.

9.  Police Regulation 46 (and equivalent Regulations in Scotland and Northern Ireland) will be amended to provide the cumulative method of calculating sickness absence over the previous year when determining whether an officer is due to come off paid sick leave. The PNB will consider guidance in relation to situations where it would be reasonable for chief constables to exercise their discretion favourably to resume/maintain paid sick leave.

Consideration of early retirement on medical grounds

10.  Priority should always be given to an appropriate programme of rehabilitation rather than premature consideration of medical retirement. However, where medical retirement does have to be considered, the system should be both fair and transparent. The PNB will consider how best to provide greater clarity as to the sequence of events in the management of medical retirement cases and the roles of the police authority, FMA and SMP. This will include the stage at which cases are referred to the SMP for determination and whether or not there are circumstances in which it is justified to request the SMP to reconsider their determination.

The role of the selected medical practitioner

11.  The duties of the SMP will not normally be carried out by the FMA but by somebody removed from the day to day care of officers. In exceptional circumstances there should be a board of three doctors appointed by the police authority rather than a single SMP.

12.  SMPs will be provided with, and work to, appropriate medical guidelines drawn up by the Home Office after consultation with both Sides of the PNB.

13.  It is recognised that police authorities may wish to collaborate on a regional basis to develop a suitable list of SMPs.


14.  A fair and transparent system of medical retirement needs to be underpinned by a robust appeals system. The Police Pensions Regulations will therefore be amended so that medical referees appointed by the Home Office are replaced by boards drawn from panels of medical practitioners (similar to the arrangements now in place in the fire service). The appellant may be required to bear the costs in the case of a vexatious or frivolous appeal.

15.  The Police Pensions Regulations will be amended to provide for further measures to improve procedures and limit appeals to cases where there are genuine differences of opinion:

    • in addition to the current provisions for giving notice of intention to appeal, for which there will now be a 28 day limit, there will be a requirement for the appellant to give a written statement of grounds for appeal within a further 28 days. These limits may be extended at the discretion of the police authority.

    • The police authority and the appellant will have the opportunity to agree to an internal review of the SMP's decision in the light of the officer's grounds of appeal, without prejudice to the formal right of appeal.


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Prepared 8 July 2002