A new law has been passed meaning anyone who injures a police animal could spend up to five years in prison.

Previously the term was a maximum of six months, but following a campaign led by PC Dave Wardell of the Beds, Cambs and Herts Dog Unit, the Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill has now upped the punishment.

The bill, also known as Finn’s Law part 2, comes after a police dog named Finn almost died from injuries sustained on duty in 2017.

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.

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.

Hillingdon Times: Dave and FinnDave and Finn

"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.”

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 October 5 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 made 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.

Charlie Hall, chief constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary, 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.”