Finn outside Parliament PC to @K9Finn
On Friday morning Robin Walker was on the front bench in the Commons Chamber to show support for a key change to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 dubbed Finn’s Law- with Finn watching on from the public gallery.
This Bill, passed on its third reading, is the product of the Finn’s Law campaign, which sought to secure further protections for service animals.
The campaign was launched following the harrowing attack on PC David Wardell’s dog, Finn, who sustained multiple stab wounds to the chest while pursuing a criminal. The suspect was apprehended, but Finn was seriously injured with both lungs punctured.
The suspect was eventually prosecuted, however the charges brought forward for the attack on Finn were limited to those of damaging police property, effectively reducing the severity and violence of the attack to the equivalent of damaging police equipment.
As a longstanding supporter of animals and emergency services, Robin has welcomed a series of recent amendments to the law such as last year’s increase of the maximum sentence for animal cruelty which increased tenfold from six months to five years in both England and Wales, and the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill which increased the maximum custodial sentence for assaulting an emergency worker including police officers, paramedics and fire men and women.
Commenting on Finn’s Law, Robin said:
“It is entirely right that the UK has a robust legal framework to tackle this behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.”
I know that service animals, both dogs and horses, have been incredibly valuable in Worcester and having witnessed first-hand the bravery and discipline of these animals when on duty in the city last year I cannot welcome this legislation enough. I am happy to see the law finally reflect the value these animals have both on and off duty, and it was truly very special to see Finn in the chamber on Friday.”
These laws safeguard the rights of the courageous men, women and animals protecting public safety, and gives judges the power to hand down harsher sentences on those who abuse them.”
I know this bill has been strongly supported by our Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion.”
This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make, and are making, the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.”
PC Dave Wardell, Finn’s Police Dog handler, said:
“My boy Finn, now retired, was one of several thousand service animals that work to protect the whole of society 24 hours a day, every day. When Finn was seriously injured it didn’t seem right to me or the public that he was seen as an inanimate object/property, in law.”
This campaign and Bill is my way of saying thank you to Finn for saving my life and to the many others for the truly outstanding and brave work they do every day.”
Finn with Handler Dave Wardell receiving PDSA Gold Medal Jonathan Brady/PA
Notes to editors:
For more information on the new law, please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-support-for-finns-law-campaign-in-parliament
For more information on the Finn’s Law campaign, and to read more about Finn’s story please see: https://www.finnslaw.com/
For more information on the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jail-time-to-double-for-assaulting-an-emergency-worker
For Robin’s previous press releases on policing please see:
Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 currently requires a Court to take various factors into account when determining whether suffering caused to an animal can be considered “unnecessary.” One of these statutory considerations, section 4(3)(c)(ii), is whether the conduct which caused the suffering was for a legitimate purpose, such as, protecting a person, property or another animal.
Service dog statistics:
- In the year April 2017 to March 2018, police dogs were used in 1,920 incidents, including being deployed on 1,238 occasions.
- Of the 1,920 incidents, the dog needed to use force on 1,014 occasions to protect itself and 643 occasions to protect the public.
- In just 99 (5 per cent) of the 1,920 incidents a suspect escaped.