Police and Crime Commissioner wants stricter laws to protect officers and their dogs

From left, deputy PCC Stuart Tweedale, dog handler Karl Pownall with police dog Boris and PCC Marc Jones.
From left, deputy PCC Stuart Tweedale, dog handler Karl Pownall with police dog Boris and PCC Marc Jones.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, has backed two new laws which are designed to protect police officers and their dogs who are attacked in the line of duty.

PCC Marc Jones has written to MPs urging them to back two new pieces of legislation cracking down on offenders who target emergency service workers and their support animals - both due before the House of Commons next month.

In 2017, 270 officers and staff from Lincolnshire Police were assaulted.

Between November last year and February this year there have been 65 assaults on officers.

PCC Marc Jones said: “Attacks on the woman, men and animals who put their lives in the line to keep us safe are despicable and the Government deserve credit for helping the legislation get to this point.

“It is no easy task to create legislation in these areas but I’m sure Government is doing what it can to navigate the issues and if possible will deliver the enhanced protection that I and others calling for.”

A Service Animals (Offences) Bill calls for the introduction of a new offence of attacking a service animal - including police dogs - and broadening sentencing powers.

The Bill, referred to as Finn’s Law, follows the stabbing of a police dog named Finn in Hertfordshire in 2016.

Although the German Shepherd was stabbed in the head and chest the suspect was only charged with criminal damage - the only available charge for someone who attacks a police or service animal.

The Lincolnshire Police dog unit is part of a wider East Midlands collaboration and one of the region’s dogs gets seriously injured every six months while on duty.

In the latest attack in Nottinghamshire on March 15, a dog was stabbed, narrowly missing an eye, and requiring nine stitches to its face.

Next month MPs will also consider new legislation which will allow assaults on emergency service workers while on duty to be treated more severely.

To date, the Government has supported this potential change in legislation and if MPs continue to do so the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Private Members Bill will mean offences such as malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm, and common assault will become aggravated — and therefore, become a more serious crime — when carried out against police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and prison officers, if the bill becomes law.

It is expected that the new Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill could double the maximum sentence for common assault from six months to a year.

PCC Marc Jones ended by saying: “We must ensure the punishments society hands down are tough and send a clear message that they will not be tolerated.

“If we are to keep our communities safe then we must protect those who protect us.”