Today the Service Animals Bill, also known as Finn’s Law, passed its final Commons stages and will proceed to the House of Lords
Courageous service animals such as police dogs and horses will be offered greater protection under a new law being backed by Government. It relates to the prominent Finn’s Law campaign, named after the police dog which was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell.
The proposed legislation will remove a section of the current law of self-defence, often used by those who harm a service animal. This change, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.
The Bill proposes amending the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to address concerns on an existing section where a defendant accused of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can claim they were protecting themselves and justified in using physical force against a service animal.
Commenting on the progress made today, David Rutley, Animal Welfare Minister said: “I am delighted that Finn’s Law has passed another hurdle thanks to Sir Oliver Heald and all the supporters who have campaigned for service animals to be given greater protection. The Government will continue to support this important Bill.”
Today the Service Animals Bill, known as Finn’s Law, passed its final Commons Stages. This means the Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords, taking it one step closer to becoming law. Read more about Finn’s Law here: https://t.co/4Zz2C7AOY8 #FinnsLawFriday #FabulousFinn pic.twitter.com/i1eeRWNimD
— Defra UK (@DefraGovUK) February 8, 2019
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 4 (offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal), after subsection (3) insert—
- “(3A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (1) whether suffering is unnecessary in a case where it was caused by conduct for a purpose mentioned in subsection (3)(c)(ii), the fact that the conduct was for that purpose is to be disregarded if—
(a) the animal was under the control of a relevant officer at the time of the conduct,
(b) it was being used by that officer at that time, in the course of the officer’s duties, in a way that was reasonable in all the circumstances, and
(c) that officer is not the defendant.
- (3B) In subsection (3A) “relevant officer” means—
(a) a constable;
(b) a person (other than a constable) who has the powers of a constable or is otherwise employed for police purposes or is engaged to provide services for police purposes;
(c) a prisoner custody officer within the meaning of Part 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
- (3C) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend subsection (3B). Only a person in the public service of the Crown may be specified in subsection (3B) by virtue of regulations under this subsection.”
(3) In section 61(2) (regulations subject to affirmative resolution procedure), after “section 1(3),” insert “4(3C),”.
2 Extent, commencement and short title
(1) This Act extends to England and Wales only.
(2) This Act comes into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which it is passed.
(3) This Act may be cited as the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2018.