And so, at 1200 hours on Wednesday 5th July, 2017, I went to this meeting, a meeting that Superintendent THOMAS had written was very much to support me in my welfare………..
The meeting was with Superintendent Sue THOMAS and Jonathan Edmondson.
Sue THOMAS said, ‘You haven’t met Jonathan before so let me just put into context why Jonathan’s here.
As part of a ‘Force commitment’ and my commitment to the Chief Constable’s, it’s about maximising people’s contribution in the workplace and how we’re supporting people who are absent and how we can return them to work so that they are able to contribute and protect people from harm. (Protect people from harm was a force buzzphrase)!!!
That is what this meeting’s about, it’s very much about where you’re at and how you’re feeling.
But in addition to that, the position the Forces have taken is that cases are supported by HR. A new team has been set up to look at more complex cases and cases where individuals are off for an extended period.
As a result of it……….Jonathan’s now taken this case on. So, that’s why Jonathan’s here. Jonathan is pretty much here to advise you and I around process and options that are available to help you and your welfare.
Is that a good summary Jonathan’? (He said it was).
Sue THOMAS continued…..’So we don’t need any introductions Richard. I was very conscious that we were due to meet last week. I don’t know what happened with the phone call but, I didn’t get the information that you were coming. When I did, I’d already said, this was all happening and I just needed to understand the occupational health aspect, the HR aspect, understand if there was any update from Professional Standards, all of that information, so I just didn’t have everything I felt I needed to be fair to you.
So my final thing is, these meetings are quite normal. They are for people who’ve been off for an extended period. I personally do not intervene along the journey because it’s not right that I do as the Superintendent.
I know you asked me in your email recently why I’ve not been in touch, that’s, I have to give it to my sergeants to touch base, I’ve been speaking to your sergeant about it to bring him up to speed today, but your sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, there’s three levels of management there and my commitment is the case management which is at this level and what that can mean in terms of, and I’m not saying it’s for you but it can be, what my position is, recommending to the Chief Constable, things like, extensions of pay, recommending to a Richard Elkin (Head of HR), around half pay and extensions of full pay.
(If you understood the last bit, you’re better than me)!!
Potentially, and we’ve had a number of these sort of discussions around unsatisfactory performance, unsatisfactory attendance, (veiled threat)?, so it’s absolutely right that I remain out of that chain but I do on a monthly basis, get updates on everybody’s cases.
And so I am up to date with your case and I know about your case but it didn’t need my personal intervention with you. But as I say, it was just an appropriate time now, especially when you consider you’ve been off coming up to five months, that we have a meeting.
So, that’s kind of where we’re at.
Ok, so Jonathan will take a couple of notes and as much of that is about, and your more than welcome to see those notes, it’s just about making sure that we’ve captured where we’re at and where we can move forward to.
Before we get into this Richard, I want to be absolutely clear. This is not about performance, this is not about misconduct. I’m not here to discuss the investigation that’s ongoing that ‘local PS’ has been dealing with.
This has to be a meeting purely around your welfare. (Was it though)?
It’s just not right that I intervene in any of those things because there are processes running in all of those and I absolutely accept that any one or a combination of them could be factors or will be factors that are affecting your welfare and if you want to reference them, that’s fine but I just want to be absolutely sure. I’m not at liberty to start discussing any one of those.
So, I do have your ongoing updates from your supervisors and absolutely I’ve spoken to and seen your occupational health report. But one of the ways I always start these meetings is to say, assume that we don’t know most things and I want to hear it from your perspective as to how you are and how things are. So, it is over to you’.
So I then found myself in the very uncomfortable position of having to explain a medical issue to two non medically trained people, having already explained the issues to our occupational health department.
There was already a system in place where they could have referred me to the Force Medical Advisor, (FMA), a trained Doctor, and if he had any issues he could have written to my GP for clarification on anything.
Why were they doing this? It felt as though a they were trying to somehow shame me into going back to work, having been made ill at work!
I was asked who had diagnosed me and when was I diagnosed. I said my GP in, I thought October 2016.
Sue THOMAS said, ‘ That’s a gap for me because if he’d diagnosed that formally, he would have had the responsibility really to inform the organisation, or you would. So did you let your Sergeant or Inspector know? (I’m sure she said she was up to date with Occupational Health)???
I said that it was as a result of a meeting with my Inspector that I had been to see my GP.
Sue THOMAS went on to say, ‘It’s absolutely really good that your own GP has intervened and made an assessment but from an occupational perspective you still will need to see the FMA.
I think, where we are at normally, and it’s normally about now isn’t it. You yourself have said you were able to cope with it, you were coping, you’ve been coping for years. Something’s triggered it as a result of lots of stuff that’s going on and as a result of it now, that’s what’s causing……..
And they are a bit…they’ve both come together, I have to say. As a result of everything that’s going on in your life, it’s therefore triggered your original PTSD.
So what we need to just ensure is that we’re dealing with those two together. And that’s why, at the point where Dean Jones came to see you, and it was a couple of months ago, and I know when it was because I’d just come back off leave, just after Easter. I said, it might be a conversation that we have with Richard, how we can support you through your return to work. And that’s how it should have been given to you and I know you took that adversely and in the negative. It was a , we need to get back to work. That’s not what we’re saying. That’s never what I can say. What we need to say is, if you feel able to come back to work at any point, through your Doctor, through the FMA, through your medication, then we really ought to support it.
And the reality is, you’ve been able to do that for many years. What I don’t know and I still won’t know until I get to the FMA is…….and I’m hearing it from you and I’m not disbelieving you, but I have to take medical evidence as part of any decision making.
I said, ‘These series of events haven’t triggered it. It’s always been there. It’s just made it unmanageable’.
Sue THOMAS asked me if there was anything else I wanted to say.
I said, ‘I know that CI Jones wasn’t saying that you’ve got to come back to work but it was just, maybe untimely, having just served me notices for Gross Misconduct, for which you could lose your job. It just didn’t seem an appropriate time to be discussing that or looking at that’.
Sue THOMAS then said something I found astonishing.
‘And there is a pattern and Jonathan will bare me out on this, where the organisation are looking at…….and this is not about you, but it’s about the organisation, that people, some officers are being served forms and the very first thing they do is, do what Jonathan’?
Jonathan said, ‘Go off sick’.
Sue THOMAS continued, ‘Go off sick, so there’s a real, Chief Officer kind of saying is, we have to understand the reasons why people are going off sick as a result of being served forms. Because many people get served forms but are still in the work place. So we just need to understand, what is it……….I mean as it was you got served forms while you were sick actually. You know, it wasn’t quite the same with you, but there still needs to be’……
I interrupted, ‘And when I was served the initial forms for misconduct I didn’t go off sick then’.
Sue THOMAS said, ‘No, I know you didn’t and you and I sat at Ross and had those conversations many times. That was the misconduct ones. You’re absolutely right’.
What in hells name was she going on about then?
‘So this is just understanding where those forms and the stress of those forms and anything that’s ongoing as it is are impacting on your health and your welfare. That’s what we’re talking about’.
FFS, I think my three year old Grandson could work that one out!! 😡😡
I said,’ At the moment, the misconduct is with the IPCC and so there’s no time scale as to when that would be looked at and the Gross Misconduct isn’t being looked at until the IPCC look at the misconduct, so again there’s no timescale as to when those are going to be sorted’.
Sue THOMAS said that she knew that wasn’t helpful!!
I said that I had become disillusioned with everything because of the way I had been dealt with.
I said there was lots of things written in the Code of Ethics .’Whistleblowing will be a positive experience. Well I haven’t seen that positive experience’.
Sue THOMAS said, ‘We’ll I wouldn’t say you’ve Whistleblowed. Whistleblowing isn’t about grievances. Grievances is about you having a particular issue with the way that something’s been dealt with. It’s not necessarily whistleblowing’.
(Remember the ‘ IPCC having published guidelines for handling allegations of discrimination, (which include allegations raised internally through the grievance process) I didn’t write it!,
I continued, ‘ in respect of the Prosecutor, Mr Davies, that is Whistleblowing’.
ST. – ‘But that’s a separate matter to the grievance. They’re two separate things’.
Me – ‘No, no, that was in my grievance. That was part of the grievance. Other officers there didn’t challenge what he said and you know our own Code of Ethics states that we’ve got a duty to challenge inappropriate behaviour, inappropriate comments and so it is. My response to Nick Husbands (PSD) in respect of the Gross Misconduct is saying that I was a Whistleblower.
Because, essentially CPS have made a complaint, because I’ve made a complaint’.
Sue THOMAS said that I would have to go and see the FMA which I agreed to do.
We later talked about the unlawful interview conducted by Martin Taylor. I said……
‘I understand that we have to do things thoroughly but I just think that the way it was done was underhanded and all of those words like integrity, honesty that are in the Code of Ethics were just ignored. I also understand, and I think you said yourself, It’s a complex set of circumstances. I get that, but if you read the Code of Ethics it says that it’s even more important when things are complicated to stick to the Code of Ethics when we work and I just don’t feel that that’s happened’.
ST – ‘And I’m not seeking to take that away from you because the reality is,parts of your grievance were upheld. Daily, I see people breaching the Code of Ethics and breaching our values. I have to say, I’ve probably done them myself because, It’s not about getting things right all of the time. It’s just about, you know, we need to take some time and reflect and try to improve things. But breaching the Code of Ethics is not necessarily a disciplinary matter. It is, you know, about taking things forward. But I can’t take away how the set of circumstances looks from your perspective. You’ve had your opportunity to raise that through the organisation.
Kevin Purcell has taken the position where he does not feel that there’s any further action to take, other than, that he has discussed Martin Taylor’s interaction with you and with me and that it could have been done differently. (That’s certainly NOT what Kevin Purcell said in the meeting, as you have read)!!!
Kevin did report that back to me. He reported it back to me quite clearly with a view to saying that there’s no points and there’s no discipline but I’d like you to have a conversation with Martin as his Superintendent. And I have had that conversation with Martin and that was a discussion between a Detective Inspector who’s been involved in a number of cases, who clearly feels quite passionate about the circumstances anyway for lots of reasons and not least because he’s had the finger pointed at him for, from your perspective from the grievance.
But his view is very much he doesn’t feel in the circumstances that he would have dealt with that situation any differently, bearing in mind what he knew at that particular time. And that’s not for me to decide otherwise because Professional Standards knew that’…….
I can’t go on but I think you get the picture. The whole thing was a whitewash. We went from Supt Purcell saying that he was a danger to him and to the organisation and that he clearly didn’t learn from his mistakes to Supt THOMAS totally defending and sticking up for him. Why was that? Who intervened to protect Detective Inspector TAYLOR?
Unfortunately, I really don’t think that Superintendent THOMAS or Jonathan Edmondson cared too much about my welfare!!
On the following day, I sent an email to Superintendent THOMAS.
And her response…..
Could ANYONE have faith in our Grievance Procedure following this. Well, yes, Senior officers would, obviously.