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Police v Private Investigators '4. Appearing to smile':

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:26 PM

This is all too familiar.

Maybe it's overdue that there is a worldwide shake up in various industries.

What we would like to know is, Why are Insurance companies & Private Investigators not been held to account for ongoing breaches of Article 8 of The Human Rights Act?

These actions that these people are doing to people worldwide are completely unacceptable especially when we undertake taking out "insurance cover" in good faith.

Time for action & accountability just like there has been in relation to Phone & Electronic hacking etc in the UK.

For those that are reading this & are new here, please feel free to have a look around under Private Investigators/Fraud/ Phone Hack & the like - use keywords in the top right hand search box.

'4. Appearing to smile': Insurance companies track stressed ex-police officers making claims

January 16, 2015

718 reading now

Former police officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are routinely subjected to intrusive surveillance by insurance companies. A leading lawyer has now called for an end to such tactics. Cydonee Mardon reports.

Hunted like criminals: stressed officers tracked. Photo: Supplied

Aggressive, relentless and arguably illegal surveillance methods by some insurance companies are causing extreme reactions in police officers who are pursuing insurance claims and often exacerbate their mental health conditions, a leading lawyer warns.

"From my constant review of video surveillance taken of my former police client claimants, I often see circumstances where it is clear that private investigators have breached not only privacy provisions when obtaining video surveillance but have also breached specific criminal provisions," John Cox, principal lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said.

Mr Cox, based in Penrith, who leads the Slater and Gordon police compensation group, acts exclusively for existing and former police officers and emergency services personnel, many in the Illawarra region,

Thirty hours of surveillance was conducted on this former officer. Photos taken from the private investigator's report relied upon by MetLife showed the man "appearing to smile" and "conversing with a group of people". Photo: Supplied

"It is a criminal offence to enter premises without the consent of the owner for the purposes of utilising a surveillance device to record a person's activities, yet I have seen these provisions breached on a number of occasions by PIs [private investigators]," he said.

"I see also the videoing of claimants' children and other children with no association to the claimant, and video footage taken on school grounds involving numerous schoolchildren," he said.

"Surveillance has also been taken of my clients in the privacy of their homes, at their dinner tables with their families, and also in their bedrooms."

Call for review: Lawyer John Cox. Photo: Sylvia Liber

Mr Cox said he was yet to see any video evidence showing his clients working or engaged in any activities that had not been previously disclosed to the insurers, their doctors "or which are otherwise contrary to the compensation claim being made".

"I would understand the constant pervasive use of such surveillance if it was catching out claimants engaging in work or activities inconsistent with their claims, but this is not the case," he said.

"The only conclusion I can make is that the surveillance is undertaken to place pressure on claimants or to harass them, and anecdotally I do hear of officers who simply abandon their claims due to such conduct and the ill-effects it has had on them and their families."

Mr Cox said that, when that happened, the insurer saved on having to pay that claim.

None of his clients would argue against an insurer having the right to investigate a claim, he said.

"However, where those investigations include PIs surveilling them aggressively, at times illegally and for long periods of time, then it is clearly unreasonable conduct by the insurers."

The courts have the discretion to exclude such illegally obtained video but Mr Cox insists the practice should "simply not occur in circumstances where the effect on a claimant's health and welfare is so acute".

Mr Cox has called for a review of the claims-processing tactics of insurers including the legitimacy, value and prejudicial use of surveillance and private investigators - especially in claims involving former police officers suffering from psychiatric injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

The use of PIs and video surveillance was especially fraught with difficulties for claimants who were former police officers, he said.

The Illawarra Mercury has been contacted by numerous police officers complaining that constant surveillance was not only causing stress and anxiety for themselves but also for their families, including at times extended families such as siblings and parents who were at times subjected to surveillance.

Mr Cox said MetLife, one of the insurance companies associated with Police Total and Permanent Disablement claims, appeared to have embarked on the use of extensive video surveillance by PIs, "seemingly as a matter of course in every claim".

Putting aside what must be the significant costs associated with such surveillance, it raised ethical and legal issues that needed to be considered, he said.

"I assert legally that an insurer must have a valid reason or reasonable grounds to suspect a claim is fraudulent or the claimant's credibility is at issue before going down the avenue of extensive, protracted video surveillance.

"In my opinion, in most cases it simply does not have such grounds but [MetLife] engages PIs to undertake surveillance as a matter of course. This is especially true in cases where it holds overwhelming evidence based on which the claim should be accepted," Mr Cox said.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Josh Mennen said the surveillance strategies adopted by MetLife were the most aggressive his firm had ever seen.

"A good number of psychiatrists will not place any credence on surveillance footage of people suffering PTSD in any case because it cannot and does not reveal what is going on in their heads," Mr Mennen said.

"What we know it does do is place them under enormous stress.

"It perpetuates psychosis, particularly where it involves paranoia and it has got to the point where this behaviour can only be seen by MetLife as an effective strategy on the basis that it wears them down so they drop their case."

Mr Mennen said the surveillance was "littered with errors and inaccuracies".

"For example they are relying on footage for a client of mine supposedly driving and transporting goods when she wasn't in fact the driver. And they are relying upon website records of a male claimant who was supposedly registered as playing in a cricket team and where in fact the registration was incorrect.

"They don't double-check their facts with us.

"If the insurance company can get to the credibility of the claimants, they can undermine self-reported symptoms to the doctors. It's all about attacking their credibility."

Metlife has strongly refuted the claims, saying many of the allegations are inflammatory and incorrect.

"To the extent the assertions he makes relate to MetLife, we reject any suggestion that we would be knowingly engaged in illegal or unethical practices," a spokesman said.

"MetLife always seeks to pay legitimate claims quickly and fairly. It is important to note that unmeritorious claims result in the passing on of premium increases, which is unfair for other members and unsustainable in the long run.

"MetLife uses surveillance selectively and sparingly and only where it has concerns about the legitimacy of a claim. When doing so, we conform to recognised industry standards, ensuring privacy is respected and that the surveillance is relevant, targeted and discreet."

Mr Cox said he was surprised by MetLife's response.

"In the overwhelming majority of my files, I have the evidence to show Metlife's conduct regarding its usage of surveillance.

"I know my clients' experiences with surveillance. Ultimately it would be interesting to hear from other former police engaged in the process with MetLife as to their experiences with surveillance."

Mr Cox agreed there was a legitimate question about the value of the use of video surveillance in psychiatric injury claims.

"A video cannot tell you how a person is feeling or thinking in any given moment and indeed whether they are experiencing symptoms of their illness or not, simply through their physical actions."

Mr Cox was also concerned about the selective use of edited video footage obtained and used by PIs.

In a recent case, TPD insurers rejected a claim on the basis of 42 minutes of video footage in circumstances in which surveillance of more than 90 hours was conducted.

"This particular client during the 42 minutes of surveillance utilised by the insurer was shown shopping for everyday items such as bread and milk and during the other 90 hours was sitting closeted in her home by herself in acute distress."

Another problem with video surveillance was that it failed to show the context of the vision relied upon.

"A client of mine was videotaped seemingly enjoying a family get-together, however, what was not revealed was that it was the first time she had been at such a get-together in many months and only attended under threat from her husband to leave her if she didn't make an attempt to re-engage with her family. It also didn't show the panic attacks she was having at the function or the physical symptoms relating to the anxiety she was suffering."

Mr Cox said clients were often encouraged by their psychiatrist and psychologists, as part of their treatment, to try to engage in social activities such as meeting friends for a coffee or to take a trip to the shops only to be confronted by aggressive PIs obviously photographing and videotaping their attempts at reintegration.

"This behaviour of course discourages these attempts and only leads to further distress and anxiety."

Illlwarra Mercury

#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:27 PM

Full statement: compensation lawyer John Cox reacts to MetLife pledge
Jan. 17, 2015, 9:44 a.m.

Slater and Gordon senior police compensation lawyer John Cox reacts to Global insurer MetLife's pledge to finalise the permanent disability compensation claims of around 200 waiting police officers by July.

It is pleasing to see MetLife hear our calls for urgent action to be taken on all outstanding claims, but I welcome the development with caution given the significant delays to date.

It is incumbent upon MetLife that it sticks to this commitment and assesses every single outstanding claim before 1 July, 2015 – anything less than this is unacceptable and will cause immense further distress to those claimants involved.

There are approximately 268 outstanding TPD claims, known as the ‘Forgotten 300’, and there is evidence that the delays have led to the suicide of former police officers waiting for their claims to be assessed.

I have seen my clients wait years for their TPD claims to be determined, and in my opinion, MetLife has not properly or adequately addressed this issue which has continued to cause extreme distress to my clients, aggravated their symptoms and delayed their recovery.

My concern, as I have been expressing publicly since last year’s Parliamentary Forum on this issue, is that we simply cannot let the death of another police officer occur in these circumstances – something concrete and immediate needs to be done.

While MetLife has rejected our call for the establishment of an independent panel to resolve all outstanding claims, we do acknowledge and welcome the commitment it has given to finalise these claims within the first half of this year, if not before.

I am reassured that MetLife will meet its commitment by the fact that it is a global insurance company which has been active in Australia since 2005 and asserts that it prides itself on fulfilling its promises and always puts the customer first.

Following MetLife’s announcement, I will continue to call for further reform to ensure no more families were devastated by suicide.

It is obvious that the ongoing welfare of former police officers medically discharged hurt on duty needs to be a priority and programs must be put in place for them and their families’ ongoing care.
See your ad here

I believe that this reform is important to safeguard from the circumstances that have arisen over the last few years. The distress, deaths and agony to claimants and their families cannot happen again.

Recommendations for future police TPD compensation claims:

* The establishment of clear guidelines and a timeframe for the processing and determination of claims including specific time limits and deeming provisions relating to the acceptance of claims if they are not determined within 12 months;

* A review regarding the manner that TPD claims are assessed, including the routine use of surveillance, to ensure this does not occur with the new TPD insurer, TAL; and

* A commitment by the NSW Government and the NSW Police Force in respect of cultural reform through education to de-stigmatise mental illness within the Force to make it easier for police officers to identify symptoms, seek immediate treatment and to do so without fear of recrimination.


#3 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:28 PM

The Forgotten 300 - An information site for Former NSW Police Hurt On Duty

A page for current & former NSW Police who have been HOD & families of Police suicide, fighting for their rights. Supported by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers


#4 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 12:54 PM

Please click on the link to watch video.

Death in the line of duty

Download audio
show transcript

Sunday 11 January 2015 8:05AM

Too often, traumatised police officers are shunned, isolated and put under surveillance. They lose their careers, friendships and often their homes, marriages and children, and a growing number are taking their own lives. William Verity investigates the silence around police, post traumatic stress and suicide. (Warning: some listeners and readers may find the content of this report disturbing). (This program was originally broadcast on 2 March 2014.)

Related Stories

Death in the line of duty by William Verity, RN Breakfast 28.02.2014

Our shameful silence on police suicide by William Verity, The Drum 3.03.2014

For decades, silence has surrounded the issue of traumatised police officers taking their own lives.

Police forces and unions have viewed public discussion as taboo, arguing that raising the issue will only encourage more suicides.

But the final words of a suicidal former NSW detective sergeant look set to change that.

The minute you put up your hand and say, listen I am just not coping, I am ill and I can't sleep and I'm crying uncontrollably in the corner of the office, and you can't type because your fingers won't send the message from your brain ... that's career suicide.
Karol Blackley, former police officer

Ashley Bryant left behind a wife and three young children when he killed himself at a waterfall near Bryon Bay in NSW on 16 December 2013.

Before he died, he called 000.

'I suffer post traumatic stress disorder,' he said.

'I can no longer live with the trauma of it and I want this to go to the coroner.'

'There needs to be more things put in place for what happens. For partners of those that suffer, because I suffer and so do the partners.'

'And there has to be more done for them. Alright, I have no more to say.'

His widow, Deborah Bryant, is taking up the campaign and has launched a scathing attack on the lack of support provided by the NSW Police Force.

'I don't think we were even a glitch on their radar,' she told Background Briefing.

As a first step, she is calling for police who commit suicide with post traumatic stress to be included at remembrance days and included on the honour board. Suicides are specifically excluded from the National Police Memorial in Canberra.

She believes that nothing short of a change of culture is necessary to prevent further deaths.

'These people have given their life for their career, and they have gotten to the point where they are broken and they should be recognised for that,' she said.

'As far as I am concerned, that's death in the line of duty.'

This article represents part of a larger Background Briefing investigation. Listen to William Verity's full report on Sunday at 8.05 am or use the podcast links above after broadcast.

The lack of recognition hit home for another widow, Kimberley Galvin, whose husband, Tom Galvin, killed himself after living with chronic post traumatic stress for six years.

She said Police Remembrance Day was one of the hardest times of her life.

'It came in the same year as an officer killed on duty,' she said.

'With all due respect, it was like no-one else had died that year.'

'It was very difficult for me to comes to terms with ... your husband goes to work and he doesn't come back, as opposed to your husband suffering and suffering and suffering and ends his life.'

'That those two things are acknowledged in such different ways. Or one is acknowledged extensively and one is not acknowledged at all.'

Although the order of service listed many police who had died from a variety of causes—including old age and ill health—Tom Galvin's name was conspicuous by its absence.

The story of isolation is repeated by thousands of police officers across Australia who become too sick to work.

Karol Blackley was dux of her class when she graduated and enjoyed a distinguished 22-year career in the NSW Police Force before—in police jargon—'falling off the perch'.

'They didn't care about me at all, not one iota,' she said.

'It was astounding, disappointing, hurtful, gut-wrenching. Here I am, with what could be a permanent psychological debilitation and they couldn't give two hoots.'

At her lowest point, Blackley tried to hang herself and then drove to a local hotel, drank as much as she could stomach, and then drove her car in the hope that she would crash and die.

'The minute you put up your hand and say, listen I am just not coping, I am ill and I can't sleep and I'm crying uncontrollably in the corner of the office, and you can't type because your fingers won't send the message from your brain … that's career suicide,' she said.

'So people hang on and they hang on until they commit actual suicide.'

Blackley runs one of several Facebook support sites set up by former officers—there is no site run by NSW Police—and says isolation can be one of the most damaging effects of post traumatic stress disorder.

'No-one from the police department contacts you when you are off sick,' she said.

'No-one contacts you when you are medically discharged and certainly no-one contacts you when you are not in the police [force] anymore.'

The experience of these officers is in stark contrast to the message from Assistant Commissioner Carlene York, head of human resources at the NSW Police Force.

'Whilst they are with us we have many intervention programs that we will go through with the officers to make sure those services are given to them urgently and immediately,' York said.

'They are very much supported in the workplace by their commanders and fellow officers.'

Although she declined to reveal suicide statistics, York maintained that indicators such as the number of officers leaving the force due to mental stress had improved dramatically in recent years.

'We put a lot of services in place and we very much rally around the family in the regretful circumstance where there is a suicide,' she said.

'We make sure we can help them through those difficult times.'

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge has been calling for an inquiry into another aspect of the way sick officers are treated - by their insurance companies.

Shoebridge became aware of the issue when he represented injured police as a barrister, before entering parliament.

'We need to ensure that those claims are handled promptly, fairly and independently,' he said.

'At the moment, there are many outstanding psychological injury claims that have been running for years. That aggravates the injury.'

He wants an inquiry to look into the treatment of officers such as Andy Peverill, who has been fighting for compensation for three years with no end in sight.

The former constable has hidden away on his farm outside Parkes, in western NSW, with the blinds drawn for fear of surveillance by his insurance company, MetLife.

The company made him see 10 psychologists—they all confirmed that he has post traumatic stress disorder.

Peverill's wife, Michele, believes it is a tactic to grind them down and told Background Briefing that more than half of the officers who put in a claim end up giving up.

Like other officers, they say they have received no support from NSW Police or from former colleagues.

'When I ask Andy he says he thinks they are frightened of catching it,' Michele Peverill said.

'Almost like it is contagious. I don't know if there are any undermining things where senior officers say you mustn't have a bar of him, I don't know.'

'They won't even reply to my texts if I text them, so I don't know.'

If you need help, or know someone who does, then contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

You will also find useful resources at

#5 User is offline   shulgin 

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Posted 09 April 2015 - 06:42 PM

Sorry for almost 40 years the police charged exactly how many un-lincenced private investigators... I believe they could be counted on the fingers of captain cooks bad hand!

#6 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 03:25 PM

Call for regulation of insurance investigators after claims of bullying, spying and intimidation
By Pat McGrath and Jodie Noyce

Updated 18 Mar 2016, 9:06am

Video: Insurance investigator's surveillance footage (ABC News)

Claims of spying, bullying and intimidation by the private investigators hired to look into insurance claims have led consumer rights lawyers to push for more regulation of insurance investigations.

Key points

Consumer rights lawyers want tighter controls for insurance investigators
Claimants report being filmed, 'treated like criminals'
Insurers say surveillance used sparingly, by licensed investigators

Former police officer Rachel Clark was spied on by her insurance company, MetLife, and was filmed at the supermarket, shopping with her three children and even helping them try on clothes in a change room.

"They filmed me at the gym, they filmed me at one of my children's swimming carnivals, so they were filming other people and their children, and my children," she told 7.30.

Ms Clark's 14-year career with the New South Wales police ended in 2010 when she was medically discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The mother of three was followed and filmed by investigators after she lodged a disability insurance claim.

"I was assisting an investigation where a child was sexually assaulted over a five-year period and the offender filmed the incidents," she said.

"Part of my job was to view the footage several times in order to be able to determine what to charge him with."

Do you know more about this story? Email [email protected]

Former police officer's health deteriorated after claim rejected

She said she could not get the horrific images out of her head, leading to her PTSD and depression.

After leaving the police force, Ms Clark said her mental state worsened after she was sent the investigator's surveillance footage along with a letter saying her claim had been rejected.

MetLife believed she was in a fit mental state to find a new job.

"I kind of spiralled downwards," she said.

"I had to go back to see my psychiatrist and he doubled my medication at that point."

Rachel Clark's lawyer, Josh Mennen, said he believed the reason MetLife started secretly filming Ms Clark was to put pressure on her to drop the claim.

"Surveillance is used, in part, at times, as a bullying tactic, so that the claimant will drop that claim because they're under too much stress and find the process too difficult," he said.

MetLife said it used surveillance sparingly and only employed licensed investigators.

One in four calls to Sydney's Financial Rights Legal Centre is from people who say they have been by bullied by insurance investigators.

One of the Centre's solicitors, Alexandra Kelly, said the investigators were not allowing her clients the presumption of innocence.

"Our clients feel that they've already been accused of being guilty, that the investigator isn't investigating what's really happened with the insurance claim, but instead just thinks that they're guilty and is trying to find evidence to corroborate their guilt," Ms Kelly said.
Insurance claim was 'like a nightmare', arson victim says

Gann House Photo: Elaine Gann claimed on her insurance after her house was gutted by fire.

One of those clients was Elaine Gann, whose home was destroyed by arson three years ago.

Elaine's son Michael was a suspect but was later cleared by the police.

Despite this, she said the private investigators sent by her insurers, NRMA and IAG, treated her and her son like criminals.

They were both questioned for nearly five hours in total and felt pressured to drop the claim.

"I didn't expect that I'd have to go through the loss of my home as well as have to fight my insurance company to get my claims paid in it was like a nightmare on top of a nightmare," she said.

In a statement, IAG said: "Regardless of whether or not the police decide to pursue prosecution in relation to an incident, we need to investigate a claim and based on the evidence we gather make our own objective assessment."

The Financial Rights Legal Centre has collected dozens of stories like the Gann's for inclusion in a report, released today, which recommends tighter controls for insurance investigators.

"We'd really like the insurance industry to take more ownership as to their responsibility for their private investigators and set a robust set of standards for those investigators to meet," Alexandra Kelly said.

"And make that a public document so the consumer knows how this relationship works, and they can't be bamboozled and tricked and cajoled by an investigator into providing information they don't have to, or being subject to really long interviews they don't need to be."

Topics: insurance, consumer-protection, australia

First posted 17 Mar 2016, 7:57pm

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