Staffordshire Police rolls out body armour for dogs

Staffordshire Police has become one of the first forces in the UK – and the first in the West Midlands region – to roll-out body armour for its police dogs.

Aug 2, 2021
By Tony Thompson

The lightweight armour is custom-made to protect police dogs against knives, bullets, spikes and impact from blunt objects.

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.

“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.”

The armour was chosen after the force evaluated different types – for their protection level, durability and design. They have been produced following feedback from extensive trials conducted by UK police forces.

The chosen design had to make sure the comfort and needs of the police dogs were met, as a priority, as well as the practical requirements of the handler and trainer. The armour comes in different sizes and has a special material in the lining that helps dissipate heat away from the dog’s body, which was originally designed for use in space suits.

The roll-out – to both general purpose and drugs dogs – comes after ‘Finn’s Law’ (Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act) legislation was introduced in June 2019. German Shepherd Finn was stabbed in the head and chest as he protected PC Dave Wardell from a knife-wielding robbery suspect in Stevenage in 2016. The legislation makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence. Under the previous law, the attack on Finn could be treated only as criminal damage.

Chief Insp Kelsall added: “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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