Fears that UK policing is being gripped by a growing compensation culture increased today after it was revealed one officer received a whopping £8,000 payout – for a FLEA BITE.
The policeman who lodged the bizarre flea bite claim had been working in an infested police station when he was bitten by the bug.
Shocking figures showed that a single cash-strapped police force had paid out a whopping £900,000 to settle claims over the last three years.
West Midlands Police was sued by 51 serving officers and 16 civilian staff for a range of bizarre workplace injuries.
One worker received £1,000 for insect bites while another got £14,000 after they fell from their pushbike.
A data protection breach cost the force a staggering £50,0000 while one employee was given £600 after being exposed to a LOUD NOISE.
News of the wacky payouts came just a day after Home Secretary Teresa May expressed concerns in the Commons about police compensation payouts.
Former West Midlands officer Ray Egan, who served on the force from 1967 to 1993, described the payouts as ’embarrassing’.
He said: “I was a policeman for almost thirty years and you never heard of anything like that in my day – there was never talk about it.
“If I’d gone to my bosses and said ‘I’ve been bitten by a flea’ or moaned about falling off a pavement they would have told me to brush myself off and get on with it.
“You’d get a boot up your bum and told to get back out on the streets.
“To claim for a flea bite is just too embarrassing for words.
“All that money would have paid for a few bobbies on the beat, there never seems to be any cash to pay for frontline services but when someone wants compensation they seem to find it.”
Campaigners yesterday urged police chiefs to crack down on ‘crazy’ payouts for minor injuries.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s preposterous that a police officer would be given a payout for an insect bite.
“The crazy compensation culture has got completely out of hand and police chiefs urgently need to clamp down on attempts to play the system.
“Policing is a difficult job that involves officers putting themselves at risk, but claims by some are in danger of undermining the hard work of the majority of officers.”
Birmingham City Council’s community safety chairman Cllr Wazeem Zaffar said: “At a time of such austerity we have to ensure that the taxpayer is getting value for money.
“I think on the back of these figures the force has to look very carefully at the health safety measures that have been adopted.
“Unfortunately, we are living in a compensation culture and it is likely that the compensation culture has crept into the police force too.”
Ian Edwards, Chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Police Federation, said: “Policing is a risky job where injuries can affect your ability earn a living.
“We negotiate deals for insurance policy schemes, but it is up to the individuals and the firms involved to lodge any kind of claims.
“We play no part in the claims, but I suspect that the majority of them are reasonable and wholly appropriate.“
The majority of the 67 compensation cases relate to officers and workers tripping over or suffering dog bites while at work, with the highest claims coming in at £22,000 and £16,000 respectively.
There was also #30,000 payment for a `display screen equipment problem’ and £7,000 for injuries suffered by one employee who fell off a chair.
WPC Kelly Jones, of Norfolk Constabulary, sparked outrage earlier this month when it was revealed she was suing a garage owner after she tripped over on a 999 call to his business.
The Home Secretary ordered a probe in to police compensation claims in order to establish the extent of the problem.
Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, she said: “We don’t want members of the public to feel that they can’t ring 999 because they’re worried a police officer might sue them as a result of something that happens when the police officer is there to look into the incident which has taken place.”