Chief hits at 'trip' Pc legal bid
Published 01/04/2013 | 14:02
A police chief has spoken of his "disappointment" after one of his officers began legal action to seek damages from a petrol station owner after she reportedly tripped on a kerb while attending a suspected break-in.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley said the claim by Pc Kelly Jones did not represent the "approach and attitude of the overwhelming majority" of staff at Norfolk Constabulary.
Her lawyers claim the property owner is at fault after she injured her leg and wrist when she was called to Nuns' Bridges Filling Station in Thetford, Norfolk, in August last year. The force said it had no prior knowledge of the action the officer was intending to take until it appeared in media reports.
Mr Gormley said: "This type of claim does not represent the approach and attitude of the overwhelming majority of our staff who understand and accept the risks inherent in policing and which they willingly confront to keep the public they serve safe. It is a disappointment that this is potentially undermined by a private compensation claim."
A force spokesman added: "This legal action is not supported by the Constabulary, our understanding being that the action is funded and supported by the Police Federation, a position over which the Constabulary has no control."
Petrol station owner Steve Jones, 50, said he was "dismayed" to have received the letter seven months after the incident. Mr Jones and the officer were checking the outside of the building after an alarm had gone off, when she is alleged to have fallen and injured herself.
The letter from solicitor Pattinson Brewer claims Pc Jones went towards a gap in the fencing to access the rear of the premises but was unaware there was a section of high kerbing and tripped and fell. The officer injured her left leg and right wrist and went to the West Suffolk Hospital, the letter added.
Mr Jones said: "At first I was anxious and worried. I really could not see how this sort of thing could have happened. You call the police and expect them to be on your side. I'm sure they are normally but not in this case."
The claim alleges the petrol station was at fault for failing to ensure Pc Jones was "reasonably safe", making no attempt to light the area or warn her about the step. The letter also alleges the business failed to display any warning signs or carry out a risk assessment.
The Police Federation confirmed it is funding the legal costs of Pc Jones and said civil claims made by officers must be treated "on their own merits".