Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping today urged the government to get behind public calls for a new law to protect police dogs attacked or killed in the line of duty.
In a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the PCC said police dogs were as valuable to policing today as they have been throughout history and said any attempt to attack or kill a police dog on duty was a serious act of violence which should be treated with severity in law.
It came as the Service Animals (Offences) Bill, commonly known as ‘Finn’s Law’, was due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons today. The Bill advocates the introduction of a new offence of attacking a service animal, including police dogs, and broadening sentencing powers in situations where a service animal is injured as a result of crime.
In the letter, Mr Tipping said: “Attacking a service animal which is there to protect and uphold public order is a serious demonstration of violence and should be regarded as such. Such behaviour should be viewed with the same contempt as if a police officer was injured since both are executing public duties.
“Current legislation does not satisfactorily protect our hardworking police dogs and horses and other service animals, without which many aspects of policing such as drug detection and searching for missing people or suspects would be far more challenging.”
Mr Tipping said police dogs confronted risky and dangerous situations every day to keep their handlers and the general public safe from harm. He urged the Home Secretary to replicate the provisions made in other EU counties as well as Australia, USA and Canada by recognising and protecting in law the special role of the police dog and all service animals
“I fully support any action to recognise the sterling contribution they make through law,” he said.
The campaign for ‘Finn’s Law’ was launched in the wake of the stabbing of a police dog named Finn in Hertfordshire last year who was chasing a suspect. His handler was also injured during the incident.
It has gained widespread public support, with more than 120,000 people signing a petition to give status to police dogs and horses as ‘police officers’.
There are no current laws that specifically protect police dogs or horses. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering while the Criminal Damage Act 1971 classes animals as property capable of being ‘damaged and destroyed”.
However, campaigners say police dogs and other service animals shouldn’t be regarded as “objects” or “property” and call for a new law which recognises their individual contribution to public safety.
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Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018