Police Animals

Thank you for contacting me about police animals.

Police support animals make a valuable contribution in the detection and prevention of crime and in maintaining public safety. Attacks of any sort on police dogs or horses are unacceptable and can be dealt with severely under the criminal law.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 an attack on a police dog or other police support animal can be treated as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and the maximum penalty is 6 months' imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. The financial element of the penalty was raised in 2015 to unlimited from a maximum fine of £20,000. Similarly an attack on a police animal could be considered by the court as an aggravating factor leading to a higher sentence. Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage which would allow for penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The Government has also requested that the Sentencing Council considers assaults on police animals as an aggravating factor as a part of their current review on guidelines for sentencing in the Magistrates' Courts, which includes animal cruelty offences.