Police pay out �570k in compensation

A GROWING compensation culture contributed to Suffolk Constabulary paying out more than �570,000 over a five-year period.

Colin Adwent

A GROWING compensation culture contributed to Suffolk Constabulary paying out more than �570,000 over a five-year period.

The county's police force has blamed an increase in “no win, no fee” legal offers for a rise in the number of compensation claims it has received.

A total of 662 demands for restitution were made by the public and the constabulary's employees between July 1, 2004 and August 5, 2009.

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The most costly category, according to Suffolk Police figures, was for physical injuries which led to the force handing over �166,355.

Legal fees for the claimants' solicitors were included in the total five-year payout package of �577,607. This was split between �415, 874 for the public's claims and �161,733 for police employee demands.

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The figures were revealed after a Freedom of Information request.

A constabulary spokesman said: “We are committed to providing a quality policing service to the people of Suffolk.

“Constabulary staff have thousands of interactions with members of the public on a daily basis, often in very difficult circumstances.

“Any complaints received and any subsequent compensation claims are taken extremely seriously. Each claim is examined to see if there are lessons which can be learnt by the constabulary.

“It is fair to say that police forces, like many organisations, have seen an increase in the number of claims over the last decade as 'no win, no fee' offers from legal companies become more prevalent.

“These particular figures released under FOI give a snapshot of what the constabulary has paid out in the last five years and includes the compensation paid to the complainant, and all legal fees - both of the complainant and the constabulary.

“Some of the incidents, which lead to these claims, may have happened many years ago - in some instances people have up to seven years in which to make a claim, which can then take a considerable time to legally settle.”

Motor claims were also one of the major reasons for the compensation payments. There were 203 claims amounting to �125,422 for damage to third party vehicles, and with other third party costs they left the county's constabulary �268,440 out of pocket.

The largest amount of claims (236) involved damage to property at a cost of �47,690, while 44 wrongful arrest demands ended up with a total payout of �38,169.

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