West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner on Finn’s Law (13 Mar 2018)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner is supporting Finn's Law to give greater protection and recognition to attacks on service animals, such as police dogs and horses.

On October 5th 2016 a police dog named Finn was attacked with a knife whilst apprehending a robbery suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head whilst protecting his handler PC Dave Wardell of Hertfordshire Constabulary who was also attacked.

Even after being attacked Finn did not let go of the suspect until other Police Units arrived and arrested him.

The suspect was charged with occasioning actual bodily harm for the injuries to PC Dave Wardell and only criminal damage for the horrific injuries to Finn.

Criminal damage is currently one of the only available charges for someone who seriously injures or kills a police or service animal in the line of duty, as they are considered as being property.

The Service Animals Offences Bill is currently going through Parliament and is expected to have a second reading in the coming months. The Bill is looking to make it an offence to attack service animals, including police dogs and horses; to make certain offences aggravated when perpetrated against such animals; and for connected purposes.

Mark said: "Attacking a service animal is a truly despicable act but it's one that unfortunately does occur. However when it does happen it's only right that the magnitude of the attack is given proper recognition so I am absolutely in support of Finn's Law.

"Finn's actions on that day in 2016 are credited with saving a police officer's life. We shouldn't let actions such as that go without reward and it is time that the law was changed to properly acknowledge the role of these brave animals. I will be watching the outcome of the second reading of the Bill closely and I for one and absolutely hoping for a positive outcome."

To find out more about Finn's Law visit www.finnslaw.com.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019