Police officer bitten by flea gets £8k

Police officersA West Midlands police officer received an £8,000 compensation payment - after being bitten by a flea at work.

The officer in question made the claim after working in an infested police station. But his is far from the only claim. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
In fact, shocking new figures reveal that West Midlands Police alone has paid out an incredible £900,000 in compensation to serving officers and civilian staff over the last three years.

The force paid out the jaw-dropping amount to just under 70 staff affected by a range of bizarre workplace injuries.

According to the Mirror, the claims included a £14,000 payout made to a member of staff who fell off a pushbike, a £600 payment to someone who was "exposed to a loud noise" and a further £7,000 that went to a worker who sustained injuries after falling off a chair.

Former West Midlands police officer Ray Egan, who retired from the force in 1993, told the newspaper he was shocked by the extent of the claims. "I was a policeman for almost 30 years and you never heard of anything like that in my day - there was never talk about it," he said.

"If I'd gone to my bosses and said 'I've been bitten by a flea' they would have told me to brush myself off and get on with it."

However, Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, from West Midlands Police, said that all the compensation paid out was only done so after appropriate investigations had been made.

"Compensation payouts are only made following the assessment of appropriate medical evidence by the in-house legal team, insurers and solicitors who then make a recommendation to the force as to what payment should be made, based on expert knowledge and published case law," he said.

West Midlands is not the only police force to have a shockingly high compensation bill, though.

According to Metro, some 2,000 police officers across the country received payouts totalling a massive £19.8 million last year.

And Home Secretary Theresa May is clearly concerned about the "claims culture" in our police forces.

She ordered an investigation into police compensation schemes after Norfolk WPC Kelly Jones, 33, sparked outrage by suing a garage owner because she had tripped over a kerb on a 999 call to his business.

"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," May said.

"There has been a case recently which has highlighted this and the question I am asking is: is that case symptomatic of a culture or is it simply a one off case and doesn't reflect what's actually happening?"

10 consumer rights you should know
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Police officer bitten by flea gets £8k

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.


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