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bbc.Finn's Law: Stabbed police dog law given Royal Assent

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PC Dave Wardell and Finn Image copyright Hertfordshire Police Image caption Police dog Finn was stabbed in the head and chest while on duty in Hertfordshire in 2016

A law giving protection to service dogs and horses has been given Royal Assent.

The new legislation means causing unnecessary suffering to a service animal is now an offence in England and Wales.

It was inspired by German shepherd Finn, who was stabbed while trying to apprehend a man in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 2016.

Finn's handler PC Dave Wardell said he was "so happy Finn has gone down in history".

"What a legacy for the job he absolutely loved doing every day of his career," he said.

Finn the police dog after his operation Image copyright Dave Wardell Image caption The extent of Finn's injuries prompted campaigners to call for changes to animal attack laws

PC Wardell and Finn were both stabbed when trying to catch a man suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint.

The dog was stabbed in the chest and head but did not let go until reinforcements arrived. It was initially thought he was unlikely to survive but he recovered and was back on active duty 11 weeks later.

PC Wardell, who was knifed in the hand, credited Finn for saving his life.

But while the 16-year-old suspect was charged with actual bodily harm in relation to wounds to PC Wardell, he faced only criminal damage charges over the injuries to Finn.

Since then the police officer has been campaigning for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

MP for North East Hertfordshire Sir Oliver Heald was given permission to bring in the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill in 2017.

PC Wardell said: "This has been an amazing journey and such a positive campaign to be part of. All this positivity came from such a negative event.

"I would like to thank every single person who has supported us through this. I can't believe we've made history."

Police dog Finn and handler PC Dave Wardell Image copyright Hertfordshire Police Image caption Finn needed emergency surgery and handler PC Dave Wardell was treated in hospital

Chief Constable Charlie Hall said what had happened to the pair was "etched in all our memories".

"After months of campaigning, it's great to see something so positive coming to fruition which recognises the importance of police dogs in our family," he said.

Sir Oliver said he was "delighted" the Bill now had Royal Assent and thanked everybody who had been involved.

A bill receives Royal Assent once it has completed all the parliamentary stages in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament and therefore the law.       https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-47878060

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Cathedral Bobby

Good job 🐺

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Sceptre

I don't really understand why this was necessary other than as a good soundbite, criminal damage is a more serious offence than causing unnecessary harm to an animal and carries a much higher maximum sentence of ten years instead of 51 weeks - the only advantage would be the longer statute of limitations. If the sentences being passed are too lenient then the sentencing guidelines (which already considered attacks on police dogs and horses an aggravating factor) should have been amended to prompt magistrates to refer more cases to the Crown Court.

And stabbing the officer in the hand doesn't sound like ABH, it sounds a lot like S18 wounding with intent to resist arrest.

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David

Hmm.

Frankly I would like to see injuries (and greater priority) to humans attracting far harsher penalties than everyone going whoop whoop over this law.

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Mags-1979
3 hours ago, Sceptre said:

 criminal damage is a more serious offence than causing unnecessary harm to an animal and carries a much higher maximum sentence of ten years instead of 51 weeks - the only advantage would be the longer statute of limitations.

Does anyone know how much is a police dog worth in pounds sterling?

If it's less than £5k my reading of the Criminal Damage Act and the guidelines is that it is triable as summary only when the value of damaged property is under £5000 with a max sentence of 3 months. Finn's Law has a 51 week max.

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/magistrates-court/item/criminal-damage-other-than-by-fire-racially-or-religiously-aggravated-criminal-damage/

"Triable only summarily if value involved does not exceed £5,000
Maximum: Level 4 fine and/or 3 months
Triable either way if value involved exceeds £5,000"

 

3 hours ago, David said:

Hmm.

Frankly I would like to see injuries (and greater priority) to humans attracting far harsher penalties than everyone going whoop whoop over this law.

Why one or the other? Can't we have both?

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/finns-law-delivered-to-protect-brave-service-animals

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Sceptre
38 minutes ago, Mags-1979 said:

Does anyone know how much is a police dog worth in pounds sterling?

Unless the dog dies then the value of the damage isn't necessarily the value of the dog but of vets' bills, lost return, backfilling overtime etc; the vets' bills alone would probably top five thousand I'd have thought. 

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David
52 minutes ago, Mags-1979 said:

Why one or the other? Can't we have both?

Cold hard facts, Which one is worth more?

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Techie1
1 hour ago, Sceptre said:

backfilling overtime etc; 

Yes, these police dogs demand triple time for short notice. 😁

 

Good to see the law pass, but how many criminals actually pay their fines and how many spare places are there in jail's... 

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Blue Line Flex

Glad to hear it. Shouldn't resist.

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