WEST Midlands Police was among forces that made the biggest single compensation payouts to officers and staff injured in the line of duty, a data investigation has revealed.

The force shelled out £156,328 after an officer made a compensation claim after falling from a stool or a chair - figures obtained by Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit show.

West Midlands Police spent a total of £289,568.49 on 73 claims between 2015 and 2019 - £237,000 of which was paid out as a result of slips, trips and falls suffered by officers and members of staff, Freedom of Information responses revealed.

In fact West Midlands spent more than any other force on claims regarding injuries sustained as a result of slips, trips and falls.

Other claims resulted from animal attacks, a vehicle incident, physical assault, exposure to noise and incidents involving lifting or handling.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "When a civil action is brought against the force, each case is considered and a detailed examination of the facts and circumstances is undertaken to determine whether there is any liability for the force.

"However, it is important that these figures are put into perspective, given the vast number of incidents officers and staff attend and the positive effect that these invariably have on public confidence.

"Public accountability is an essential pillar of modern policing and when we are at fault, it is essential we remain accountable to the public by ensuring appropriate compensation."

Since 2015, UK forces and their insurers have paid out more than £20m on claims involving officers and staff – the equivalent of the first annual salary of more than 870 new officers.

Clive Knight, the Police Federation’s Health and Safety Lead, said preventing injuries was in the interest of all officers, their colleagues and the public in order to “reduce absences on an already stretched service”.

He added: “The Government and chief officers must do all they can to ensure the physical and mental welfare of officers is protected to allow them to keep doing their jobs, serving the public to the best of their ability.

“The consequences for officers who suffer an injury on duty are wide-ranging. It can affect their ability to perform their required role, their personal life and in extreme cases it can even end their policing career.

“As well as physical injury, it is important to note that increasingly these cases focus on the psychological harm police officers can suffer as a result of their work.”

The Federation is campaigning to raise awareness of the toll police work can have on mental health and wellbeing and is pushing for improved health and safety practices across all forces.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Every day police officers and staff run towards danger and deal with numerous traumatic events whilst assisting the public. Chief officers take their duty to protect their workforce very seriously.

“Forces carry out risk assessments, offer training and work with staff associations to make sure our people are as safe as they can be and when a police officer or member of staff is injured at work, it’s vital they receive appropriate care, support and treatment.”

While not all disclosed claims resulted in pay-outs, the total cost paid out between 2015 and 2019 in association with cases against the 37 forces which responded to an FOI request was made up of more than £18m in compensation and around £1.9m in legal costs.

The total could be considerably higher when considering claims lodged against forces that did not respond and those that disclosed only partial information.

Home Office guidance suggests chief constables have a duty to manage and support their workforces effectively to ensure the welfare of all officers and staff, with compensation claims a matter for individual forces to determine.