The Association for Police and Crime Commissioners has announced today that ‘Finn’s Law’, which will help to protect service animals in the line of duty, has been backed by the Government.

The bill, which came about after PD Finn was stabbed on duty in Stevenage, comes after a petition reached 120,000 signatures.

It called for the status of police dogs and horses to be changed, so that anyone who attacks a service animal would face the same charges as if they had attacked a person. Previously the charge would be one of criminal damage.

The online petition was launched after police dog Finn was stabbed, along with his handler PC Dave Wardell, while chasing a suspect in Denton Road.

The MP for North East Herts Sir Oliver Heald also put forward a motion in the House of Commons in December last year, calling for a change in the law.

The attack on PD Finn happened in 2016, when he and PC Wardell were chasing a 16-year-old boy, armed with a 12-inch combat knife, through a back garden.

The boy stabbed the German shepherd through the chest during the altercation and had life-saving surgery to have parts of one lung removed.

The offender was found guilty of causing criminal damage by stabbing Finn, and was given a detention training order for eight months – four months in custody and four months in the community – as well as a two-year behaviour order with conditions and fines.

APCC chair and PCC for Herts David Lloyd said: “I am delighted that the Government has agreed to support this important bill, which will help to protect service animals – including police animals – who play such an important role in assisting our police officers and keep our communities safe.

“The need for legislation was brought to the fore by the experience of PD Finn and his handler, PC Dave Wardell, in Hertfordshire.

“A change in the law is something that police and crime commissioners have called for in recent months and I want to pay tribute to Sir Oliver Heald MP, Finn’s Law Campaign and everyone else that has worked so hard to bring this measure forward.

“I will continue to work with colleagues to ensure that this protection is introduced at the soonest possible opportunity.”

The bill was due to be debated in the House of Commons today, but Sir Oliver tweeted that it had been tabled until July 6.