Police forces pay £770,000 in dog bite compensation
Often it is who a victim thinks about making a claim against that puts them off. This is usually because the victim feels that they would never win a dog bite compensation claim against a large company, a prominent individual or somebody who they feel is more legally knowledgeable than themselves. However the fact police forces paid out £770,000 in dog bite compensation claims, found in a survey earlier this year, should give victims the confidence to go after the compensation they deserve. It shows that no matter who the owner of the dog is, dog bite law does not treat any organisation or individual as an exception to the rule.
Results of a survey carried out earlier this year showed that UK police forces have spent approximately £770,000 in dog bite compensation claims. The majority of these claims were made by suspects, though a small percentage were dog bite compensation claims made by police staff and general citizens. The force which has spent most on police dog bite compensation is Greater Manchester Police, spending £180,000. The Metropolitan Police followed with £95,000. Here is a ranked list of how much money individual forces spent on dog bite compensation:
Top police force compensation pay-outs:
- Greater Manchester Police approx. £181,000
- Metropolitan Police approx. £96,000
- West Midlands Police approx. £84,000
- Cheshire Constabulary approx. £46,000
- Merseyside Police approx. £43,000
- Nottinghamshire Police approx. £41,000
- Leicestershire Constabulary approx. £29,000
- Police Service Northern Ireland approx. £25,000
- Hertfordshire Constabulary approx. £23,000
A suspect being chased by West Yorkshire Police was paid £15,000 in compensation.
A young teenager who had a phobia of dogs was bitten on the back by a dog belonging to Cheshire Police. He was compensated £10,000.
Kent Police paid £63.03 in dog bite compensation for a torn piece of clothing.
Brian Kiddell made a dog bite compensation claim against the police when he was attacked in Chessington, Surrey. He recalls, ‘Suddenly police officers were there telling me that there was a police dog without supervision nearby. What I felt next was a dog biting my ankle, it wouldn’t let go. The helicopter overhead covered up the sound of my shouts. This was a very scary episode.’
In a case like this, the dog bite law and compensation works in exactly the same way for police forces as it does for the general public. Pensioner Brian Kiddell was injured by a police dog, causing him a great amount of pain and stress. As with any other case, even though this was not the intentional outcome of the owners (i.e. the police), Kiddell was still entitled to make a dog bite compensation claim against the police for his injuries. The police dog was not on a lead or supervised properly in the public allotment area.
This recent survey has caused some public anger at the amount of police money being spent on dog bite compensation. However, dog bite law does and should not exempt police forces from paying out compensation to individual members of the public who have been injured or hurt by a police dog.
Members of the public who sustain an injury by a police dog should not feel that they are not entitled to make a dog bite compensation claim. For example, a man who is out on his evening jog in Sussex turns a sharp corner and surprises a police dog and its owner, who is taking the dog out for some exercise. The police dog is on a lead, but is not wearing a muzzle and jumps up at the jogger. The jogger sustains some scratches on the face and a few small bites on the forearms. The jogger is aware of the fact that the dog belongs to the police force and after exchanging a few words and contact details with its trainer, cuts his evening run short and goes home. However, once he reaches home, he begins to feel uneasy about claiming compensation from the police force; he begins to feel like maybe this is not quite the ‘done thing’. However, the fact that he was bitten by a police dog and that the owner is a police officer should not put him off from claiming compensation. In the end, the jogger decides to seek legal advice on the matter and is told that he is entitled to make a claim for his injuries. Although the dog was on a lead, it was not wearing a muzzle, which allowed it to harm a passer-by. This would be grounds for a claim in any given dog-related injury incident.
This recent report goes some way in showing that dog bite claims can be made by anyone who feels that they have been unfairly injured by a dog, no matter who owns the dog. Victims should never be put off or feel intimidated by the prospect of making a claim.