Thetford: Shock as police officer seeks damages over kerb trip

Petrol station owner Steve Jones next to the kerb which PC Jones tripped on.

Petrol station owner Steve Jones next to the kerb which PC Jones tripped on. - Credit: Archant

AN MP has criticised a police officer who is attempting to sue a petrol station owner after a fall, claiming the case threatens “the fabric of our emergency services”.

Nun's Bridges FIlling Station

Nun's Bridges FIlling Station - Credit: Archant

The concerns were raised after it emerged PC Kelly Jones is taking legal action for injuries she claims to have suffered after tripping over a kerbstone while attending a suspected break-in at a garage in Thetford on August 25 last year.

The 33-year-old had been called to Nuns’ Bridges Filling Station on Bury Road at about midnight after an alarm was triggered. She fell on a kerb while she and owner Steve Jones were checking the outside of the building. Speaking yesterday, Mr Jones said he was “astounded” to receive a letter alleging the officer had hurt her wrist and leg, which she said required treatment at the West Suffolk Hospital, and that he was to blame.

Mr Jones, 50, who is married with three children and lives near Bury St Edmunds, added: “It’s a very tough economic climate for us retailers and the margins are very thin and every time you turn around there’s somebody else wanting a piece of you, whether it’s shoplifters, people driving off without paying, the credit card companies or rates going up.

“I’ve got several friends who are policemen and they do a great job and I think when you sign up to the police there must be an element of risk when you put that uniform on. I would still call the police out but it makes you wonder what the repercussions are.” The letter, from London-based lawyers Pattinson and Brewer, made several claims against Mr Jones including that he had failed to point out the kerb or to adequately light the area, therefore exposing the police officer to an “unnecessary risk of injury”. He maintains the petrol station’s canopy lights were on at the time, as was a street light directly next to the kerb.

Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, was unavailable for comment, but Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “I think the Home Secretary needs to get a grip of this situation immediately. A police officer goes into the job knowing what to expect and this begs the question of what will be next?

“A lot of people have contacted me to register their anger and I’m going to be working with other Norfolk MPs on this case, as well as speaking to the police federation. The public need confidence police will investigate a crime without trying to sue them.”

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But Paul Ridgway, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation said claims by police officers for injuries sustained while on duty were “very rare”. PC Jones, who is no relation to the petrol station owner, was unavailable for comment. A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said PC Jones was currently on sick leave in relation to pre-planned medical treatment, unrelated to August’s fall. She said the Constabulary was “wholly unaware” of this litigation, which appeared to be instigated privately by the individual officer.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, has now demanded urgent Home Office guidelines on the issue.

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