Independent Medical Referees Process 2017 to 2023 - Clarification

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Dear Department of Justice (Northern Ireland),

Please could you clarify the following Ref FOI\24\58. You kindly replied under line of business/FOI however I am looking confirm the following:

In the Chadwick and Harvison Judicial Review from evidence provided to the court by the Director of Pensions the NIPB carried out a Quality assurance exercise on results from the IMR to ensure the report was not deficient. The NIPBs position at this time (2022) was that "The respondents role in administratively reviewing the IMRs report is significant, and the 'finality' of the certificate must be viewed in that context." They stated they checked each report to ensure the doctor considered all medical conditions etc and therefore the Officer would not be treated unfairly.

This was a process ongoing at the time for every case that was processed by the IMRs. Therefore along with the 8 officers who were unlawfully prevented from getting their original banding:

1 Between 2017 and 2023 how many times did any member of staff from the Northern Ireland Policing Board change or reject the bandings given by the IMR?

At least 8 were stopped. The only reason anyone knows of this is because of the two Officers who took the judicial review. There are two other IMRs working during this period as listed on your website. Between 2017 to 2023 there has to have been other instances where a report would not meet the standard set by the NIPB therefore:

2 How did the NIPB communicate to the Department of Justice N.I. any issues raised in their quality assurance exercise during this period?

3 Where the DOJ NI aware of the "quality assurance exercise" that was being carried out by the NIPB on IMR Cases during this time period?

In July 2020 the Director of Pensions presented a paper to the NIPB resource committee. This paper was titled "Implication of the McKee and others V The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland." In it the Director of Pensions details a new process that the NIPB is asking the resource committee to agree to. (Which they did) The document remains heavily redacted with the NIPB refusing to provide any detail of the report. In the parts that can be read it concerns the Selected Medical Practitioner process. However in October 2020 at a resource committee meeting the Director of Pensions presents "Police administration Process Maps" that cover the SMP, IMR and reassessment cases.

4 Was the DOJ NI aware of this change in process to the Independent Medical referee?

5 Please may have the Process maps produced by the NIPB that covered the IMR process during this period or any time period from 2017 to 2023?

6 Please may I have an unredacted copy of this paper if it has been sent to you? or any communication you may hold from the NIPB about this change to the IMR process.

The DOJ NI previously stated "The IOD appeal process is independent of the Board as per the Regulations 30(3). The IMR is independent of the Board and Board’s Director of Pensions.
The Board’s Director of Pensions has NO interaction / relationship with the Department’s IMR in their decision-making process concerning IOD appeals."

Between 2020 and 2023 (until the Chadwick Judicial review) the Director of pensions of the NIPB carried out a process that was found to be contrary to the above statement. This process I refer to is hidden from the public but from their own paper allowed them to "research, brief and make recommendations" in their role. I understand that this submission may be beyond the scope of FOI etc but I think its important that these answers are made available. This touches on the 7 Key principles of the Civil Service Code.

Yours faithfully,

David Kitely

David Kitely left an annotation ()

Paper presented to Resource Committee 30/07/2020

https://www.nipolicingboard.org.uk/files...

Dear Department of Justice (Northern Ireland),

Please provide an update.

Yours faithfully,

David Kitely

DOJ FOI Mailbox, Department of Justice (Northern Ireland)

Good afternoon Sir

Thank you for your email, the FOI request is due 11/07/2024 and it is hoped the response will be with you by then.

DOJ FOI Team

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