Finn's Law

Thank you for contacting me about police animals.
 
Police support animals make a valuable contribution in the detection and prevention of crime and in maintaining public safety. I am extremely grateful for the bravery and skill shown by police dogs and their handlers on a daily basis. Attacks of any sort on police dogs or horses are unacceptable and should be dealt with severely under the criminal law. However as I understand it the law already allows for significant penalties to be issued to those who attack animals that support the police.
 
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 an attack on a police dog or other police support animal can be treated as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, and the maximum penalty is 6 months' imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. Indeed the financial element of the penalty was raised in 2015 from a maximum fine of £20,000. Similarly an attack on a police animal could be considered by the court as an aggravating factor leading to a higher sentence. Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage which would allow for penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment.
 
I understand the strength of feeling for animals that keep us safe, but an additional offence dealing specifically with attacks on police animals or a move to change their legal status is unnecessary in light of the maximum penalties already in place. It is also the case that additional or separate offences may not result in more prosecutions or increased sentences.
 
I have been assured that the Government will continue to work with the police to tackle this issue. Police safety is an area of great concern for me, and I will make sure the Government is doing everything it can to protect police officers, staff, and the animals that support them in their duties.
 
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.