Three years to the day that PD Finn was violently attacked in the line of duty, in recognition of the vital roles that dogs play within the force, Gwent Police will now be issuing collar numbers to all currently serving and future police dogs.
Traditionally, a collar number is issued to an officer at the start of their career, it is then their unique identification number to the police force they are serving. The collar number is clearly displayed on their epaulettes – worn on the shoulders of their uniform.
The decision to introduce collar numbers was taken following the passing of Finn’s Law in June 2019, an initiative which saw PC Wardell of Hertforshire Police campaign tirelessly for the better protection of service dogs.
This followed the stabbing of PD Finn whilst protecting PC Wardell during an arrest attempt. Finn sustained life-threatening injuries during the attack, but bravely held on until further assistance arrived. Although the offender was charged with Actual Bodily Harm on PC Wardell who was injured to his hand during the attack, he only received a charge of criminal damage for the severe injuries inflicted on Finn. The new Bill now makes it harder for those who harm service animals in the line of duty to claim self-defence, whilst also increasing maximum sentences.
All 20 dogs will now be provided with a PD collar number, which will be displayed on collars and harnesses.
Police Sergeant Julie Pearse of the Dog Section said: “I and my handlers are really pleased to see the introduction of collar numbers to our amazing dogs in Gwent, in line with other police forces across the UK. Handlers and their dogs form a unique bond and we’re proud every day of the fantastic work that they do, it’s only right that they are recognised in this manner.
“It’s fantastic that PC Wardell’s efforts have afforded services dogs in the UK the protection that they deserve and we are grateful for his efforts”
Chief Constable for Gwent Police, Pam Kelly said: “I’m thrilled to see this initiative arrive in Gwent. Our police dogs play such a vital role in daily, operational policing in Gwent and I’m delighted to see the introduction of Finn’s Law which now gives them the legal protection that they rightly deserve. The new PD collar numbers will hopefully go some way to reflect our appreciation for the role they play in Gwent.
“Police dogs are instrumental in a variety of police work, from helping us find missing or vulnerable people, to helping us tackle serious and organised crime, including drug supply. A lot of their work is often unseen by the public but when you see our dogs at work, it really is exceptional – our police dogs are a part of our policing family and we could not be without the unique skills of both the dogs and their handlers.”
PD 20 Ruby, who is a 3-year old Springador and PD 17 Charlie, a 2-year old German Shepherd, had the great honour of being the first dogs to meet with the Chief Constable and be awarded their new numbers. Don’t they look proud?!