POLICE in Cheshire have paid out nearly £100,000 in three years – enough to put four new constables on the county's streets.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed claims against Cheshire Constabulary for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault reached a three-year high last year.

There were 50 cases of Cheshire police being sent claims over alleged mistreatment from April 2009 to April 2010.

In the year before that the figure was 32 and in 2007/08 there were 37 claims. Only a fraction result in damages being paid to the claimants but the cost to the force in claims they have had to pay runs into the thousands.

In three years, nearly £100,000 has been paid out.

That would pay the salaries of four new police constables.

Police spokeswoman Brenda Cowling said that less than 25% of claims are successful and the average payment is £1,000.

She added: “We have noticed the rising claims in 2009/10 and we're monitoring them closely. We know claims are likely to rise as arrests go up.”

In 2007/08, eight people were paid a total of £18,600. In 2008/09, a massive £42,907 was paid out to just six people. And last year, police were forced to cough up to the tune of £38,050 to seven claimants.

Personal injury claims also peaked last year with 14 when both previous years had seen just eight each.

Police dog bites alone cost Cheshire Constabulary £49,000 in compensation and legal costs over the last five years.

In 2009 two male members of the public claimed against the force in off duty accidents after one suffered ‘a very slight’ bite to the hip and another sustained a ‘slight’ bite to the arm.

The force settled one claim, paying out £1,000 in damages and £500 in legal costs.

The disclosure also reveals two dogs were retired due to safety and control issues. One was taken out of service because of an incident in training and the other was retired due to an off-duty bite on a member of the public.

Police returned one animal to the breeder while the other was handed over to the handler.

In the past year, Cheshire Police have received two civil claims in relation to allegations of discrimination which remain unresolved.