Finn's Law February 2017

Thank you for contacting me regarding the protection of police dogs and horses and the related Finn’s Law campaign.

I believe that no animal should be mistreated and certainly should be given the utmost respect when putting their lives on the line for our safety and protection.

In October 2016 a police dog called Finn was stabbed in the head and chest while chasing a suspect. For many people the charges brought in this awful case have highlighted a wider issue with the protections available in law for police animals.

People who attack a police animal can be charged under the Criminal Damages Act 1971. This legislation is designed to deal with destruction or damage to property, not animal cruelty. Those who attack police animals can also be charged under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it a criminal offence to subject an animal to unnecessary suffering. The maximum punishment is six months in prison or a fine of up to £20,000, which is much lower than the maximum penalty of 10 years available under the Criminal Damages Act.

‘Finn’s Law’, which would amend this law so that emergency service animals are no longer classified as ‘property’, would also introduce tougher sentencing guidelines for anyone who deliberately harms these animals.

Previously, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014) secured penalties of up to three years' imprisonment for those who allowed their dog to attack an assistance dog, redefining such incidents as an “aggravated offence.” I understand that more individuals believe that further legislation is overdue. An e-petition has received nearly 124,000 signatures, and has already been debated in the House of Commons. As a result the Government has now agreed to explore whether there is more that the law should do to offer the most appropriate protections to police animals and all working animals and I will closely monitor any developments.

The Labour Party wholeheartedly stands behind animal welfare rights as evident through our past legislation. We stand in support of legislation that would further it.

If further legislation is put to a vote, I will fully offer my support for Finn’s Law.

Thank you for taking the time to share your views on this issue.