Police dogs on the beat in Staffordshire are to be kitted out with body armour to help protect them from being attacked by knives or bullets.
The lightweight vests will be given to both general purpose and drugs dogs as Staffordshire Police becomes one of the first forces in the country to introduce the armour.
And the armour, which comes in different sizes, will give the dogs protection from knives, bullets, spikes and ‘impact from blunt objects’.
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Chief Inspector Dave Kelsall, head of the force’s armed/dog support unit, said: “Police dogs are part of our policing family, one of the team and as such should be seen and valued the same as our police officers. This is why Staffordshire Police, along with our national colleagues, gave our police dogs collar numbers.”
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The move comes following the introduction of ‘Finn’s Law’ – a piece of legislation introduced in June 2019 after German Shepherd Finn was stabbed in the head and chest while he protected PC Dave Wardell.
The incident in Stevenage five years ago attracted national attention and sparked calls for tougher punishments for those who harm service animals. The fresh legislation makes it harder for offenders to claim they were acting in self-defence.
In Staffordshire the new armour was chosen following feedback and trials from other forces. The armour even has a special material in its lining, that helps dissipate heat away from the dog’s body, which was originally designed for use in space suits.
Chief Inspector Kelsall said: “Providing personal issue body armour is the next step to ensuring we protect our dogs who face the same dangers as our police handlers, and, in fact, are more than likely the first ones running towards the threat.
“They now have the same level of protection in order to reduce the risk of serious injury or worse, being killed in the line of duty.
“This is a proud moment for me and I am grateful for the investment by Staffordshire Police and hard work by the dog support officers in the work to find the right kit.”
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