Police federation admits it did not prepare kerb-trip PC for backlash of controversial compensation claim
PUBLISHED: 10:19 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:19 03 April 2013
The staff association representing a police officer who is suing a suspected burglary victim in Norfolk has defended her saying it had failed to prepare her for the backlash she is facing.
PC Kelly Jones, from Thetford, is under increasing pressure to drop a £50,000 compensation claim against a petrol station owner after tripping on a kerb while investigating reports of a burglary.
The 33-year-old had been called to Nuns’ Bridges filling station on Bury Road in Thetford just after midnight on August 25 last year when she fell over, breaking her wrist and hurting her knee.
PC Jones was off sick and is seeking compensation from garage owner Steve Jones for loss of earnings.
Lawyers claim Mr Jones was at fault for failing to ensure the officer was “reasonably safe’’ making no attempt to light the area or warn her about the step when she went to investigate the incident in August last year.
But yesterday Mr Jones, 50, who said he helped the policewoman up from the kerb, told the EDP he wanted the case to come to a “sensible conclusion”.
He said: “I’d just like to thank everyone who contacted me with their messages of support.
“I’ve got a great regard for the uniform and for the police in difficult circumstances.
“I only hope we can move forward and come to a sensible conclusion.”
Last night Steve Williams, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which is backing the claim, said PC Jones should not be vilified.
He said: “Both the public and police officers have expressed concern that this type of case has been taken forward. However, it is important that the public understand that police officers are not financially compensated by their own force for injuries received on duty and, in fact, can lose money through half pay and reduction in allowances.
“Let me be clear – to vilify this female officer is wrong.
“She took legal advice as to how she could claim back some of her lost earnings as a result of the injury, and at this stage no formal proceedings have taken place.”
Her claim for compensation was passed on to the national police federation by the Norfolk branch.
The national organisation then moved the claim on to London legal firm Pattinson Brewer, who sent a letter to Mr Jones last Tuesday claiming he was responsible for the fall as the area was badly lit and there were no warning signs about the kerb.
The solicitors will now decide whether to continue with the claim.
Mr Williams added: “In my view it is actually we [the federation] that should be looking at our processes and structures in terms of how we provide advice
“She is our member and I feel that our organisation has failed to prepare her for the wider personal impact that might arise from such a claim.
“The police federation’s structure is being independently reviewed and no doubt how we continue to provide advice in the round for our members will be examined as a result of this unusual case.
“While PC Jones may be an easy target as she is one individual within a media storm, for me it is the police federation that needs to be mindful of the widespread public and member perception that has arisen out of this claim, and address that where relevant in our advice going forward.”