Extensions in police sick pay considered for the first time by the High Court
Robert Cohen acted for the Metropolitan Police in R (Weed) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 287 (Admin). This is the first time in which Regulation 28 of the Police Regulations 2003 has been considered by the courts. The Claimant (‘W’) had been assigned to the Metropolitan Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Team.
In 2009 he was the OIC for the prosecution of a man who was charged with indecent assault. He showed one of the complainants in the case statements that had been made by other witnesses. This resulted in the jury being discharged. The re-trial took place in November 2009. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Following the trial other complainants came forward and the defendant was charged with further offences. The trial commenced in February 2013. Criticisms were made on behalf of the defendant as to the W's approach to disclosure. The Judge recorded that it became clear that W's involvement with the three complainants "may have gone beyond what would normally be expected of a police officer with the duties assigned to him." The Judge made directions for W's mobile telephone calls and texts to be investigated and for him to make a statement as to his involvement with the complainants. As a result of these events W developed mental illness. He went on to medically retire from the Metropolitan Police. On appeal to the Police Medical Appeal Board he secured an injury on duty award in relation to the circumstances in which he became unwell.
Police officers are entitled to full pay for 6 months and half pay for 6 months in the event of sickness absence. A determination made by the Secretary of State, pursuant to Regulation 28 of the Police Regulations, also permits a chief officer to extend the period of sick pay. There is guidance issued by the Police Negotiating Board on the circumstances in which such an extension may be appropriate. It provides that an injury on duty should normally merit an extension of sick pay. The Metropolitan Police have also published guidance which suggests that PTSD following an injury on duty is likely to merit and extension of sick pay but that workplace stress is not. In this case the Assistant Commissioner who considered W's application concluded that his situation was closer to work place stress and that an extension was not justified.
W alleged that the Assistant Commissioner’s conclusion was unlawful. In parallel with a number of criticisms of the decision he argued that having been found to have sustained an injury on duty by the PMAB he was also entitled to a favourable exercise of the discretion to extend his sick pay.
The High Court (Mr Justice Johnson) found in favour of the Defendant. He rejected the argument that the decision of the PMAB is decisive over whether or not a extension of sick pay is appropriate. He concluded that the Assistant Commissioner had properly and lawfully applied the Defendant’s own policy and that her decision was rational.
This is the first time that the High Court has analysed this area of the Police Regulations. Importantly, it confirms that an extension of sick pay may not be required even if an officer has been found to have sustained an injury on duty bay the SMP or PMAB.