Policing: ill Health versus Capability Dismissal

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As a Federation rep I have had the responsibility of representing and advising officers on ill health retirement and appeals processes. My usual advice to officers wanting to seek ill health retirement is this;

Your chances of success are low. Around about 25% presently. There is little point trying for an ill health retirement pension unless you have tried every possible treatment available for your condition, in order to be considered as permanently disabled,even if your own GP or Consultant hasn’t recommended or even offered the treatment. Because you can guarantee the SMP or Appeal board will deny you are permanently disabled without having tried it. 

Even having exhausted every possible pill, experimental therapy and ancient tribal medicine from the far reaches of Peru, your chances of being deemed as having a permanent disability and therefore eligible for ill health retirement, are still only as good as a flutter on a roulette wheel.

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Capability Dismissal is now being pitched as a tool that will be used on the ‘minority of officers’, to plug a gap that exists where officers are not eligible for ill health retirement. It is being claimed that only a mere fraction of disabled officers will be affected.

This I am sure, is said with absolute belief in this statement, however, unless the ill health pension implications above are fully understood, reviewed and rectified, this will absolutely not be the case. In fact, there is potential in the future for this to apply to the ‘vast majority’ of disabled officers.

If ill health retirement rates remain at approximately 25% success rate (PFEW estimations), the other 75% of officers who are unsuccessful will surely be walking the lonely trail into the deep dark depths of dismissal from the Police service. It is not inconceivable that 100% of those officers will be disabled.

Our focus must now turn to the second half of the Limited Duties regulations, Capability Dismissal.

This is where the real threat lies to Disabled Officers. At least with an ‘X factor’ pay reduction, ‘they’ only manage to chew off a small piece, but you still manage to get away to fight another day. You will still have a job. It may require some very tough lifestyle changes, but for most it will be achievable.

Capability Dismissal on the other hand would see you dismissed from your force on the grounds of your ‘capability’ to perform the role of the office of Constable, having not been eligible for ill health retirement.

If ill health retirement isn’t addressed soon, Capability dismissal won’t just chew a piece off, it will swallow you whole.

Extracted in part from a blog posted by the Disabled Police Association National Secretary

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Nut spat: Stop eating Nutella and save forests, French ecology minister says

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Sweet foods can be bad for you, but some are bad for the environment, too. France’s ecology minister is calling for a boycott of Nutella, the hazelnut chocolate spread, saying its use of palm oil is contributing to deforestation in Asia and Latin America.

France’s environment minister, Segolene Royal, said people should stop eating Nutella as one of its primary ingredients is palm oil, and producing it leads to massive deforestation.

“We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil,” Royal said.

“Oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment,” she said.

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She made the comments on France’s Canal+ TV on Monday evening.

The program’s presenter, Yann Barthès, objected to her boycott call, saying the spread tasted good. Royal agreed, but insisted that people should stop eating it nevertheless, and here’s why.

Clear cut forest

Our consumption of palm oil is rocketing: compared to levels in 2000, demand is predicted to more than double by 2030 and to triple by 2050. Over 70 per cent ends up in food, but the biofuels industry is expanding rapidly. Indonesia already has 6 million hectares of oil palm plantations, but has plans for another 4 million by 2015 dedicated to biofuel production alone.

Commitments from various governments to increase the amount of biofuels being sold are pushing this rise in demand, because they’re seen as an attractive quick fix to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, 10 per cent of fuel sold in the EU will be biofuel and China expects 15 per cent of its fuel to be grown in fields, while India wants 20 per cent of its diesel to be biodiesel by 2012.

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The irony is that these attempts to reduce the impact of climate change could actually make things worse – clearing forests and draining and burning peatlands to grow palm oil will release more carbon emissions than burning fossil fuels.

But this phenomenal growth of the palm oil industry spells disaster for local communities, biodiversity, and climate change as palm plantations encroach further and further into forested areas. This is happening across South East Asia, but the problem is particularly acute in Indonesia which has been named in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records as the country with fastest rate of deforestation. The country is also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, largely due to deforestation.

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Much of the current and predicted expansion oil palm expansion in Indonesia is taking place on forested peatlands. Peat locks up huge amounts of carbon, so clearing peatlands by draining and burning them releases huge greenhouse gases. Indonesia’s peatlands, cover less than 0.1 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but are already responsible for 4 per cent of global emissions every year. No less than ten million of Indonesia’s 22.5 million hectares of peatland have already been deforested and drained.

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Sustainable palm oil?

Industry efforts to bring this deforestation under control have come through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It was set up in 2001 to establish clear ethical and ecological standards for producing palm oil, and its members include high-street names like Unilever, Cadbury’s, Nestlé and Tesco, as well as palm oil traders such as Cargill and ADM. Together, these companies represent 40 per cent of global palm oil trade.

But since then, forest destruction has continued. Many RSPO members are taking no steps to avoid the worst practices associated with the industry, such as large-scale forest clearance and taking land from local people without their consent. On top of this, the RSPO actually risks creating the illusion of sustainable palm oil, justifying the expansion of the palm oil industry.

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Greenpeace’s investigations – detailed in their report Cooking The Climate – found evidence that RSPO members are still relying on palm oil suppliers who destroy rainforests and convert peatlands for their plantations. One member – Duta Palma, an Indonesian palm oil refiner – has rights to establish plantations on land which theoretically is protected by law.

There are ways to stop this. A moratorium on converting forest and peatland into oil palm plantations will provide breathing space to allow long-term solutions to be developed, while restoring deforested and degraded peatland provides a relatively cheap, cost effective way to make huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia.

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