Taxpayers pay £40,000 for botched raids by Lothian cops

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By Oliver Farrimond

BUNGLING cops at Lothian and Borders Police have cost taxpayers more than £40,000 in damage from botched raids – the highest total in Scotland.

The force had to pay out £43,880 compensation for “unnecessary” damage to doors and windows when smashing into properties during 2008.

According to figures released yesterday, Lothian and Borders ranked 3rd out of 30 police forces, with only the London Met and the Police Service of Northern Ireland having to pay out more.

However a spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police dismissed the figures, saying that it would be inappropriate to comment.

A spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to directly compare the level of compensation paid by different police forces for damage to domestic dwellings during police operations without detailed consideration of individual police force policies and practices.”

But Bill Aitken, Conservative MSP and shadow cabinet secretary for justice, was shocked that Lothian and Borders police had to pay out so much cash.

He said: “Bearing in mind the population and prevalence of crime in the area when compared to other police forces in the UK, it does come as a surprise.

“Of course, we must bear in mind that it is not just police officers going to the wrong house but wrong information they receive before carrying out the raids.”

Susie Squire, political director for Taxpayers’ Alliance, slammed the level of compensation as being “much too high.”

She said: “It is very important that police are able to effectively fight crime.

‘Destructive and careless manner’

“But this level of compensation indicates that, in many cases, they are acting in a destructive and careless manner.”

In total, British police forces had to pay out more than £500,000 of compensation last year for damage.

Strathclyde, Tayside and Grampian police forces were also in the top 20.

According to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, police are liable for compensation if they are operating “unlawfully” or use excessive force when raiding a property.

This includes instances of raiding the wrong property, or using force that cannot be shown to be “reasonable, proportionate and necessary to effect entry.”

A Tayside police spokesman said their force would only pay compensation for “damage deemed to be caused accidentally, maliciously or with gross recklessness.”

And a spokesman for Grampian police said repairs were “only paid for by the force when the wrong property has been entered.”

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