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14 August 2014, 08:17
Norfolk Police spent almost £400,000 paying out compensation last year to the public and its own staff.
Figures obtained by Heart through a Freedom of Information Act request show the force is in the top five emergency services for payouts, and is the second highest police force, behind the Met in London.
The payments, of £394,928.73, were spread out over 48 claims. In one case, the force paid out around £160,000 to a police officer who sustained a personal injury in a crash.
In total around the country emergency services paid out around £10m in compensation last year.
Andy Silvester from the Taxpayers' Alliance told Heart it is an obscene waste of money: "Every penny that's spent on compensation is a penny that can't be spent on emergency services and doing things they're really supposed to be doing.
"It suggests either a culture of carelessness or that they're simply paying out on spurious claims because challenging them is almost too difficult and not worth the time.
"Negligence in medical practices, in police losing property when people are in custody is simply not acceptable and of course you are going to have to pay compensation. Ultimately it's the taxpayer that picks up the bill for those mistakes."
Norfolk police released the following statement:
"All claims for compensation, whether made by members of the public, police officers or members of staff, are considered by Norfolk Constabulary Legal Services Department. Each case is considered on its own merits.
When a claim for compensation is received, it is investigated by our Legal Services team who assess liability and, if appropriate, compensation. Compensation payments are calculated on the basis of legislation, case law and Judicial guidelines.
In this particular year, the Constabulary made payments on two high value motor claims. Such cases are rare and it is important to also note that the actual incidents took place some years before the claims were settled.
The Constabulary considers carefully any lessons learned from civil claims to help reduce the future risks of similar claims. "
Suffolk police's payouts totalled £50,460.46, across 70 claims.