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£589,000 paid to injured officers

The taxpayer stumped-up £589,000 on compensation payouts and legal costs for police officers hurt in the line of duty at one force, figures show.

Data released by West Midlands Police showed 26 officers made successful claims for damages in the 2013-14 financial year.

One officer's payout came after they were hurt by a colleague's baton as it was being swung to break a vehicle window, while another was injured after a colleague opened a car door on them during a pursuit.

A defective car park barrier injured one officer, while another's claim came after a trip in a "dark corridor".

In all, £328,100 was paid in compensation, while the total legal costs for the claims were £260,900.

The cash-strapped force has made £126 million of cuts since 2010, and is expected to make £23 million of savings in the current financial year.

Despite this, it ended a four-year recruitment freeze in February and started looking for 450 new officers, paid for by a council tax rise and by dipping into its cash reserves.

However, in April, West Midlands Police said the total number of officers and staff would still have to be reduced to satisfy Government-imposed budget cuts by 2016.

Commenting on the compensation pay-outs, Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said police faced "dangerous situations on a daily basis" and the force took its health and safety responsibilities "extremely seriously".

In addition, he added there had been a reduction in accidents involving officers of 7.5% in the past year.

Among the types of incidents where officers were hurt, there were five "slips or trips" - all on police premises - with another five were hurt during training.

One claim was from an officer who suffered with stress from exposure to HIV, and another from an asbestos-related disease.

Another's case was based on a fall from a faulty office chair while, in separate incidents, two were hurt moving furniture.

Mr Beale added: "We are responsible for our employees when they are on duty and when we fall short of meeting that responsibility, they are entitled to protection under the law and seek redress through the courts.

"Compensation payouts are only made following the assessment of appropriate medical evidence by our legal team, insurers and solicitors, who then make a recommendation to the force as to what payment should be made."

The break-down of cases was as follows:

:: Slip on wet floor x 3

:: Injury during Personal Safety Training x 3

:: Injury during Public Order Training x 2

:: Loading/unloading from vehicle x 2

:: Police dog bite x 2

:: Moving furniture x 2

:: Slip on ice

:: Asbestos-related disease

:: Hit by colleague who was trying to break vehicle window with baton

:: Hit by defective car park barrier

:: Stress from exposure to HIV

:: Colleague opened car door into claimant during a pursuit

:: Defective Taser - equipment failure

:: Officer injured during an armed operation to gain rapid entry to a premises

:: Trip in dark corridor

:: Trip in hole in office floor

:: Work related upper limb disorder (repetitive strain injury)

:: Fall from faulty office chair

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