Queen's Speech backs second part of Finn's Law for harsher sentences

PUBLISHED: 17:02 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:13 15 October 2019

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn at the IFAW Animal Action Awards 2017 ceremony at parliament. Picture: IFAW

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with PC Dave Wardell and PD Finn at the IFAW Animal Action Awards 2017 ceremony at parliament. Picture: IFAW

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The second part of Finn's Law is expected to progress more quickly after it was mentioned in the Queen's speech - delivered at the opening of Parliament on Monday.

Finn's Law being passed meant it is now an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal. Picture: BEDS CAMBS HERTS POLICEFinn's Law being passed meant it is now an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal. Picture: BEDS CAMBS HERTS POLICE

The second part of Finn's Law is expected to progress more quickly after it was mentioned in the Queen's Speech - delivered at the opening of Parliament on Monday.

The second part of the Bill - Animal Welfare (Sentencing Bill) - proposes to increase sentencing powers for crimes against service animals. Specifically, it will see the maximum sentence increased from six months to five years.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald said: "I am delighted that the Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill will be returning to Parliament to finish its passage.

"This will be an important part of completing the Finn's Law project by increasing maximum sentences for animal welfare offences from six months' imprisonment to five years.

"I hope the Bill may be able to be debated as early as next week, depending on other priorities such as Brexit.

"I am continuing to press for early progress.

"This is good news for animal lovers and supporters of the Finn's Law project."

The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill - or 'Finn's Law', as it is more commonly known - was passed in April this year.

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The passing of the Bill means a section of the previous law of self-defence - which is often used by people who harm service animals - has now been removed.

The law is named after police dog Finn who was attacked in Stevenage in October 2016 - along with his handler PC David Wardell - by a 16-year-old boy from Lewisham.

Finn was stabbed in the chest and head and underwent a five-hour operation which saved his life.

The offender was charged with criminal damage for the attack, and sentenced to eight months' detention.

The pair have since campaigned for better protection for service animals - with the support of North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald - and even appeared on this year's Britain's Got Talent competition to share their story.

The duo made it to the final of the ITV competition.

In August, 29-year-old Daniel O'Sullivan from Liverpool became the first to be sentenced under Finn's Law, after admitting to stabbing a police dog in the head twice.

The Queen's Speech also covered a number of other issues, including delivering Brexit and supporting the NHS.

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