THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire says a new law protecting police dogs and other services’ animals is an important recognition of the vital role they play in keeping communities safe.
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, known as ‘Finn’s Law’, came into law on Saturday, 8th June and will prevent those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence and also means service animals will not be treated simply as ‘property’ by the law.
The law is named after Finn, a Hertfordshire police dog who was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell.
Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head while protecting PC Wardell from a knife-wielding robbery suspect. But only criminal damage charges could be brought against his attacker with the law as it stood.
PC Wardell began a campaign to have the law changed to reflect that service animals are much more than simply ‘property’ and that those found guilty of attacking them should receive stricter punishment. The duo have also become well-known through appearances on Britain’s Got Talent.
This new legislation, coupled with government plans to boost maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.
Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “I’ve been extremely impressed by the way in which PC Wardell and Police Dog Finn have campaigned to change the law to make sure service animals have the level of protection in law that their tireless work to protect our communities deserves.
“I wanted that protection for our police dogs here in Warwickshire, which is why I was pleased to back the campaign.
“The need for this new legislation does very sadly highlight the risk of violence that all our service animals and police officers face in the course of their duties. However, I think the strong public support for Finn’s Law illustrates how highly we all think of service animals and policing more generally – and that’s something I hear reflected time and again across Warwickshire.”
n Anyone interested in keeping up-to-date with the work of the police dog section can follow their Twitter account, @k999cops and several of the dogs themselves – @PD_Delta and @BuzzPd.