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Pictured on her first day at work: WPC who tripped on 999 call is now suing her own force for a prang in her Panda car
WPC Kelly Jones police car skidded off the road as it pursued another vehicle and she is now suing her police forcePanda car ended up on its side and was written off following the accidentShe faced an extraordinary backlash after it emerged she was suing a petrol station owner who called 999Divorced mother-of-two has been off work on full basic pay while she recovers from that accident and tripping on a kerb
. No other vehicles were involved but the panda car ended up on its side and had to be written off after the pre-dawn crash in the south of the county.
Proud: WPC Jones with her father Danny Harle on her first day as a police officer
The spokeswoman could not divulge the extent of WPC Jones’s injuries, how many weeks she was off work after the accident or how much compensation she was claiming. WPC Jones’s lawyers, who said she injured her knee in the accident, added that the force had accepted liability.
The officer faced an extraordinary public backlash last week when it emerged she was taking action against Norfolk petrol station owner Steve Jones.
She fell over a kerbstone while
helping him hunt for burglars at his premises in August last year,
hurting her left leg and right wrist.
She was also humiliated by her own Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, who criticised that lawsuit as ‘surprising and disappointing’.
But the divorced mother of two from Thetford is unrepentant.
Accident prone: WPC Kelly Jones tripped over a kerbstone eight months after crashing her car
She issued a statement through her London-based solicitors Pattinson Brewer – a firm specialising in personal injury claims – pledging to pursue a payout from Mr Jones.
Pattinson Brewer spokesman Chris Theobald said: ‘Kelly believes that she has the right to go to work and not to be harmed by someone else’s negligence.
‘A 999 call does not mean that anything goes in terms of public safety. Kelly loves her job and accepts the many risks she faces.
‘She does not accept that because her job is inherently dangerous, public places are absolved from ensuring their premises are safe to visit.
‘If negligent behaviour can make service stations, supermarkets, garden centres or sports grounds unsafe to go to, then it is unsafe for everyone.
‘We cannot say public servants should just trust to luck when the law is there to protect us all.
is currently continuing with her claim while the details of what
happened are thoroughly investigated by her legal representation. The
injuries she sustained in August 2012 required medical treatment and she
was on sick leave for some six weeks.
‘She is still receiving treatment to bring about her full recovery.’
statement added: ‘It is not well understood that a police officer can
lose pay, promotion and career prospects by being injured while
Federation, the ‘union’ for rank and file members of Britain’s forces,
is backing WPC Jones’s action against Mr Jones, claiming the officer
wanted to claw back ‘lost earnings’.
it is understood she has lost only overtime, Bank Holiday pay and night
shift allowance because she was kept on a full salary by Norfolk
Constabulary while recovering from both the panda car crash and the
petrol station fall.
Crash: A Norfolk Police patrol car like the one which was involved in a crash while WPC Kelly Jones, 33, was inside
Accident scene: The petrol station in Thetford, Norfolk, where WPC Kelly Jones tripped on the kerb while responding to a 999 call and is now suing the owner
Police regulations ensure an officer receives up to six months on full pay followed by six months on half pay in any given 12-month period during which sick leave is taken.
How the MoS broke the story: The Mail on Sunday led the way on this issue a week ago with its front-page exclusive on WPC Jones, pictured right, which provoked a huge amount of controversy and intense public debate. More than 1,500 readers posted comments on the MailOnline, nearly all of them scathing about her decision to sue the garage owner.
It is only after a year on sick leave that a police officer will face an empty pay packet.
It is understood WPC Jones is on planned sick leave following remedial surgery to the knee she damaged in the car accident.
She is due back on active duty soon and is in close contact with the chief inspector, who is managing her return to uniform.
Norfolk Constabulary cannot discipline her for her legal action against Mr Jones – which was taken without their knowledge – or force her to abandon it. Deputy Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: ‘Norfolk Constabulary has no involvement in or control over private legal proceedings brought by police officers against third parties. We recognise this particular case has generated a great deal of public concern and we ourselves have received a large amount of correspondence.
‘It is clear that the incident has started a broader debate about the “compensation culture” which exists in all walks of life. The vast majority of officers are proud of what they do and would never consider making a compensation claim against a victim of crime.’
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett, who visited Mr Jones at his Nuns’ Bridges service station in Thetford last week, yesterday called for WPC Jones to drop her ‘misguided and absurd’ lawsuit against the businessman – although he said there was ‘no comparison’ between that claim and the one resulting from the car crash.
He added: ‘It is abundantly clear that any system in place that allows – or indeed encourages – police officers, seemingly without checks and balances, to launch claims against victims of crime backed by their staff association, needs urgent review. Most police officers accept a degree of personal responsibility when they are doing their job – including looking where they are going.’
Pain and a damaged ego are part of the job – if you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined
COMMENT by BRIAN PADDICK Former Deputy Met Assistant Commissioner
Analysis: Brian Paddick, Former Deputy Met Assistant Commissioner
The news that a police officer is suing someone who called for help will be met with astonishment among members of the public and incredulity among many of her fellow officers, particularly those of my vintage.
An increasing number of people are reluctant to call for assistance because they do not believe the police will be able to do anything. Now they could also be concerned that the officers might end up suing them. How did we get to this desperate state of affairs
In the mid-Seventies when I started out on my police career, if you stumbled over a step or uneven paving slab, colleagues would say, ‘Enjoy your trip Send us a postcard next time!’ There was no question of suing anyone, even if sometimes there may have been good reason.
After the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival riot, we began public order training. Our riot helmets were reinforced cork and plastic and we used real bricks in training.
Inevitably a colleague got a brick square on the badge on the front of his helmet and the pin holding it in place went straight into his forehead, blood streaming down his face. To complain would have been seen as being a sissy, to sue unthinkable. But the officer was allowed as much time to recuperate, on full pay, as he wanted. The helmets were soon replaced with proper Nato-style crash helmets and wooden blocks replaced the lumps of brick.
A sign that things were changing came a decade later, when I responded to an ambulance crew’s call for assistance. I ended up rolling around on the pavement with the drunken man who had attacked them. When he had sobered up, he made a formal complaint and an investigation was launched. In interview, I was asked whether I had suffered any injury during the fight, to which I replied: ‘Not really, just a few scratches and grazes to my hands.’ The final report found I had not acted unreasonably, but I received a formal disciplinary finding against me for not recording the scrapes as an injury on duty.
In those days, police officers who performed acts of bravery were praised by their bosses without hesitation.
But in 2003 a serving and former Met Commissioner faced trial under the Health And Safety At Work Act after two officers in separate incidents fell through roofs while chasing suspects; one officer sadly died and the other was seriously injured. While the Commissioners were not convicted, the police attitude to acts of bravery changed. Among other things, officers were told that they must not climb over a certain height, even if chasing a criminal or trying to save a life.
I remember in 2005 attending a Commissioner’s Commendation ceremony at New Scotland Yard. As a video shot from a police helicopter showed officers chasing suspects across steeply sloping rooftops, the senior officers in the audience sat ashen-faced, petrified that someone would report them to the Health and Safety Executive.
Police officers have got to realise that policing is a potentially dangerous business. Part of the thrill of being an operational officer is never knowing what is around the next corner or what challenge is going to face you.
Officers are protected by the courts, often being awarded damages against those who assault them as part of the criminal sanction passed by the judge.
The bottom line is, police officers are protected financially from the kind of injury that the officer who tripped up the step at the filling station claims to be suffering from. Nothing should get in the way of victims calling the police. Pain and a damaged ego are part of the job and, as we used to say: ‘If you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined.’