Cash-strapped force in huge compensation payouts

SUFFOLK’S cash-strapped police force has paid out more than �300,000 in compensation in just three years, the EADT can reveal.

The force, which faces cuts to frontline services over the next three years, has paid a total of �315,639,35 out following 292 successful claims made by members of the public and its own officers between 2007 and June this year.

A Freedom of Information request found that thousands of pounds was paid out to people for motor accidents involving police cars, forced entry to property and wrongful arrest.

The biggest pay-out was for �33,434,09 in 2008/9 after a police car was involved in a collision with three other cars.

Other payouts include loss of property whilst in police possession, unlawful detention and property damaged.

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The �315,639,35 figure looks set to rise even further as there are still 93 outstanding claims.

Despite this huge pay-out, Suffolk police faces budget cuts of up to 20% over the next three years - which has led to concerns that jobs may be lost.

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Suffolk’s deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer recently warned that the force would find it increasingly difficult to spare frontline services.

The Home Office requires the force to make savings of �1.16million in this year’s financial budget.

Last night Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Policing is a job that sometimes involves driving fast, so some pay outs are inevitable. However, the police must do everything they can to keep costs down and reduce the amount of money that is diverted from their budgets into compensation payments. Sadly we do live in a compensation culture nowadays and the police must protect taxpayers’ money against spurious or opportunistic claims.”

Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said he felt the amount of money paid out by Suffolk Constabulary was in line with other forces.

He added: “Some of it will be damages in terms of when we have kicked somebody’s door in and when we have not found anything. Other payouts maybe for cases where we could not prove neccessity to imprison someone.

“You can only train to a certain degree but as far as we are concerned every effort is made to reduce the amount that we need to pay out in compensation. Every penny paid out in compensation is money that we cannot use to do the job and we will be fighting to reduce those costs.”

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Every care is taken by Suffolk Constabulary to provide a quality policing service to the public. Due to the nature of the work undertaken, compensation claims are inevitable but there is no pattern to them. Each incident which is the subject of a claim is risk managed and lessons learned in an attempt to prevent a reoccurrence. Balanced with the number of incidents/crimes/warrants etc dealt with by Suffolk Constabulary each year only a very small amount result in a successful compensation claim.”

Period Total compensation Successful claims Unsuccessful Outstanding

2007/8 �109,363.16 83 79 2

2008/9 �148,110.04 124 84 7

2009/10 �57,122.02 79 59 58

2010/11 �1,044.13 6 1 26

TOTAL �315,639.35 292 223 93

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