Hertfordshire officer whose police dog was stabbed sees his campaign for tougher sentences for harming service animals given Royal Assent

The campaign was led by PC Dave Wardell of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:11 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:14 am

Increased sentences for those who harm service animals has been given Royal Assent by Her Majesty The Queen, following a campaign led by PC Dave Wardell of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit, whose police dog Finn was brutally stabbed.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill England and Wales, known as Finn’s Law part 2, will mean the sentencing of those who injure service animals will increase from up to six months to up to five years imprisonment.

PC Wardell said: “This has been a long and emotional journey over a number of years but all of the work has been absolutely worth it in support of all amazing service animals who are put in harm’s way on a daily basis.

PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn

“For the second time we have made history but we haven’t been able to achieve this without the support of so many people over the years.

"I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and acknowledge great work that has been done by so many charities and organisations over many years also to reach this point.”

ACC Jackie Sebire who is in charge of the Joint Protective Services Command which the Beds, Cambs and Herts Dog Unit work under, said: “We can never underestimate the dangers our officers, dogs and other service animals face on a daily basis.

"Our service animals are very much a part of our police family and deserve the recognition of this increased sentencing should anyone cause them harm.

"I know how much Dave and so many others have put into this truly worthy campaign and I would like to congratulate him and all those involved on this fantastic achievement.”

Charlie Hall, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary which is Dave’s employing force added: “This is a huge achievement and everyone involved in making this happen should feel proud of their contribution.

"Whilst it has been some time since the night of PD Finns attack, I think this shows how much the modern police service cares for and respects the role of the animals it deploys to help keep people safe.”

The original law, the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act known as Finn’s Law, came into force in April 2019, after Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP brought the Animal Services Bill (Finn’s Law) to Parliament in 2017.

It followed a campaign by PC Wardell after he and his then Police Dog Finn were called to reports of a robbery in Stevenage on 5 October 2016.

During the pursuit of the suspect, PC Wardell released Finn with a command to detain the suspect.

The suspect attempted to jump over a fence but Finn kept pace and was able to take hold of his leg.

Dave joined Finn and within moments, the suspect lunged at them.

He brutally stabbed Finn in the head and chest whilst Dave suffered an injury to his hand.

Finn didn’t let the suspect go though and in a short while other officers arrived and he was arrested.

Finn, whose actions protected Dave’s life that night, almost died from his injuries.

However, he did make a miraculous recovery and was back on active duty just 11 weeks later. He retired in March 2017.

The 16-year-old offender was charged with Criminal Damage to Finn and an offence of ABH for the injuries caused to PC Wardell. He received an eight-month sentence.