- The Service Animals (Offences) Bill, commonly known as ‘Finn’s Law’, returns to the House of Commons on Friday (6 July).
- The campaign for ‘Finn’s Law’ was launched in the wake of the stabbing of a police dog named Finn but was derailed last month when Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope announced his objection to the proposed Bill.
- PCC Martin Surl says any attempt to attack or kill a police dog on duty is a serious act of violence which should be treated with severity in law.
- The Government says it will support the bill after more than 120,000 people signed a petition to give similar status to police dogs and horses as police officers.
Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl is confident the Government’s support for a new law to protect police dogs and horses will win the support of Parliament.
Later this week (Friday 6 July) the Service Animals (Offences) Bill, commonly known as ‘Finn’s Law’, will return to the House of Commons. 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.
The Bill was due to have its second reading last month but was blocked when Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope, who recently voiced his objection to the ‘upskirting bill’ in similar fashion, announced his opposition.
Mr. Surl said, “Many people have written to me on this issue. Delaying the legislation was disappointing for all of them but it can only be a matter of time before it becomes law.
“Animals play a vital role in policing and any attempt to attack or kill a police dog on duty is a serious act of violence which should be treated with severity in law”.
The campaign for ‘Finn’s Law’ was launched after a police dog named Finn was stabbed chasing a suspect in Hertfordshire last year. His handler PC Dave Wardell was also injured during the incident.
Mr. Surl, who met Finn and PC Wardell at the PetLife festival in Cheltenham in May said, “Police dogs and their handlers act as a team and an attack on one should be regarded in the same way as an attack on the other.
“Our dogs and horses make significant contribution to front line policing. They risk harm on a regular basis to keep their handlers and the public safe and legislation should be amended to afford them the protection they deserve”.
A compassionate approach to all animals - domestic pets and wildlife as well as service animals - is enshrined in Mr. Surl’s Police and Crime Plan, the underlying strategy for how Gloucestershire police officers operate on a daily basis.
During this month’s soaring temperatures, Gloucestershire’s police dogs have been trialling specially-designed vests to keep them cool.
Dog Section PC Claire Todd said, “They are like coats. They’re lightweight, very easy to put on and fit comfortably under their police harness.
“The dogs aren’t bothered by them at all. They have free movement and the coats have been brilliant in keeping them cool in this very hot weather. So we’ve had a lot less panting going-on when they’ve been training and working.
“The welfare of our police dogs and horses of Gloucestershire is of paramount importance and we appreciate all the support and assistance we get from the PCC in assuring the health and wellbeing of our dogs”.
Not to be outdone -