A WOMAN who was savaged by a police dog searching for a suspected criminal has died in hospital.

Irene Collins allowed officers into her Park End home last Wednesday (July 16) and suffered bites to her body.

Cleveland Police have confirmed that the 73-year-old died in James Cook University Hospital over the weekend.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean White of Cleveland Police issued a statement today in the wake of her death.

He said: “Our thoughts are with family members, relatives and friends who will be distraught at this sad news. Members of Cleveland Police share the grief that is felt and we all wish to express our sincerest condolences to the family.

“The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been updated and will make a decision on how the incident should be investigated. We are providing the highest level of co-operation to the IPCC and seeking to support the family where it is possible to do so.

“The police dog involved has been withdrawn from operational policing activities and support is being provided to the police officer who was handling the dog at the time of the event.

“We are committed to learning any lessons that may arise from the investigation and the daily use of police dogs remains operationally important in reducing crime and disorder and protecting the public. Our dogs are trained and licensed for use in accordance with national police guidance.”

A family spokesperson said: “We would like to thank people for their kind messages. We are devastated. We ask the media to please respect our right to privacy and allow us to grieve in private. We do not wish to say anything further at this stage.”