Some would say “Yes”. In the eyes of the government, yes they are protected.
But when a Police Dog is attacked or assaulted what should the offender be charged with?
In America the Police Dog (in the eyes of the law)is regarded as the same as an officer…It’s an assault, go straight to jail for ten years.
But here in the UK things are slightly different, as there is no specific offence, so what options are open when a police dog is deliberately killed or injured in the line of duty?
The Criminal Damage Act 1971 – Domestic animals can be regarded as property for the purposes of this legislation. Is this really appropriate for a trained defender protecting society and catching criminals?
Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – Makes it offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. Not really designed for a police dog doing its duty.
In 2014 an e petition was started to address this point ask for a specific law to be created, it didn’t manage to gain the 100k required for it to be discussed in The House, but because it reached the 10k mark it required a response from the relevant government department. This response………
“The Government agrees that attacks of any sort on police dogs, horses or any other police animal should be dealt with severely under the criminal law. However, it is not necessary to create a new offence in order to do this.
An attack on a police dog can be treated as animal cruelty under ‘S4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006’. The maximum penalty for this is six months imprisonment, or a fine of up to £20,000, or both. Under some circumstances, it may be possible for the offence to be treated as criminal damage, where as the petitioner implies, a much higher maximum sentence will then apply.
Therefore, an additional offence dealing with attacks on police dogs is unnecessary. The behaviour is already criminal. An additional and separate offence would not be likely to lead to more prosecutions, or higher penalties. Nor would it serve as a more effective deterrent for future or potential offenders”
On the face of it a reasonable argument until you apply the ‘Reality’ factor which is by adapting current legislation not designed for the offence of killing or injuring a police dog on duty, the offence has to reach a number of criteria’s imposed by the justice system. And in most cases no prosecutions are brought due to the justice system not wishing to work on making a case and finding the ‘Burden of Proof’ too much effort.
Creating a specific offence will not increase penalties may not prevent attacks but would definitely make a prosecution much easier and provide a specific offence with its own specific burden of proof and not rely on prosecutors cobbling together a charge based on interpretations of un-related legislation.
We think the government are missing the point
But what do you think?
We’d love to hear your views on this.