MORE than 150 innocent people were bitten by police dogs in three years across the country, it has been claimed. The issue is in the spotlight after Irene Collins, 73, was bitten by a police dog in her Middlesbrough home and subsequently died in hospital.

However Cleveland Police was not able to reveal how many non-criminals were bitten by police dogs in its own district. No decision has been taken by the force on the future of the dog involved in the incident. It has been taken off duty after the attack on Penrith Road, Park End, Middlesbrough. The dog handler was said to be “absolutely distraught” by Paul Brown, chairman of the Cleveland Police Federation. Mr Brown said the Federation’s thoughts were with Mrs Collins’ family.

He said: “It is an absolute tragedy that this has happened and our sympathy is with the family of Irene Collins. Dog handlers and the dogs are given a vast amount of training but this is a tragic incident. It is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

James McNally, who specialises in police dog attacks nationwide, said cases of non-criminals being bitten by police dogs were more common than might be expected. He said that in his experience not every police dog is put down, even after a successful legal claim has been made, as they are expensive to train.

He said: “Just last week I had the case of an 18-year-old lad who let the police release a dog in his garden, similar to the lady in Middlesbrough, and was bitten on the leg.

Dog bites are frequently ragged and often can’t be stitched. furthemore, they can carry quite serious infections.”

A recent BBC report claimed that children as young ten have been bitten and there were 150 cases of innocent people being attacked by police dogs.

A spokeswoman for the IPPC confirmed an investigation in the case of Mrs Collins was underway. Cleveland Police has 15 dogs who each must undergo an intensive 13-week training course.

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Police dog attacks on innocent people
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