UK Police forces have paid out a total of £770,000 in compensation to people bitten by police dogs in the past three years. The information came from Freedom of Information requests made by BBC Radio 4.
Greater Manchester Police paid the most compensation, a total of more than £180,000. That’s quite a total when you consider that the force has only 58 dogs.
The Metropolitan Police, with over 200 dogs, had the second highest total, paying out £95,000. West Midlands Police recorded the highest number of dog bites, with 644 reported incidents.
Forty three forces provided a breakdown of their figures. Between them, 2,725 suspects were bitten, along with 196 police staff and 155 other members of the public.
One of their pay outs in Manchester was for £49,000. It was for an incident that happened during a chase, when the dog was distracted by noises in the area. No action was taken against the dog or the handler.
West Yorkshire Police was forced to pay nearly £15,000 in compensation and costs to a suspect they were chasing.
The Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead (!) on police dogs, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Ingram, said, “Police dogs are a valuable and essential resource which, when used effectively, make a valuable contribution to reducing and detecting crime and disorder and building safer communities.”
Police budgets are currently under pressure as public sector spending cuts bite. Perhaps this is one area where a little more training could lead to some savings for the police – and a great deal less pain for a lot of people.