Are we going mad? PCSO wins £4,000 damages after falling over 3ft fence and injuring her knee on 999 call

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A police community support officer who injured her knee while investigating a burglary has been awarded £4,000 in compensation, it emerged last night.

Pauline Harrison, 53, was responding to a 999 call reporting a break-in at a derelict school when she fell over a 3ft-high wooden fence.

Yesterday it was revealed that the case had been settled out of court days before it was due to go before a judge.

Sources said the settlement added up to around £4,000 – just £1,000 less than the maximum amount she could have claimed had the case gone to court.

The incident happened in 2009 when the PCSO was called to Sunshine House, a former school for the blind, after reports that youths had been spotted on the roof of the four-storey building.

Previously trespassers had set fire to part of the grounds, prompting the building’s owner – property development firm Lightflask Ltd – to secure the perimeter with a 6ft fence.

The only gap in the perimeter fence was a small gateway at the front of the site which was secured with a 3ft wooden fence.

Miss Harrison, who serves with Merseyside police, said she suffered ‘soft tissue damage’ to her right knee as she tried to leave the property in Birkdale, near Southport.

In court papers, she claimed Lightflask Ltd was negligent because it had allowed the fence to become a ‘danger and a trap to persons lawfully entering and exiting the premises’.

The former dog trainer said the company had failed to make the wooden fencing safe and failed to properly warn her about the fencing by erecting warning signs.

Miss Harrison also claimed there was no adequate system of inspection or maintenance of the site.

Last night a spokesman for Lightflask Ltd said he was unable to  discuss details of the case, which had been settled by the firm’s insurers and is thought to include Miss Harrison’s £25 travelling expenses, £14 prescription charges and £102 physiotherapy costs.

However, he added that it  was ‘crazy’ that members of the public could be sued by police going about their duties.

‘Risks cannot be removed from every situation,’ he said. ‘It’s crazy that claims can be made by police officers in their line of work.

‘The nature of their job is risky, but they are there to protect the public.’

Miss Harrison’s decision to sue was also condemned by her own force when it was revealed last month.

Chief Superintendent Nikki Holland, of Merseyside Police, said the decision to make a claim was ‘not a course of action that the force would encourage or support’.

And earlier this year Home Secretary Theresa May criticised ‘frivolous’ claims being made by officers which she said were ‘not the sort of attitude’ they should exhibit.

Her comments came after WPC Kelly Jones, 33, threatened to sue a garage owner in Thetford, Norfolk, when she tripped over a kerb while investigating a burglary. She later dropped her claim.

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