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Saunders Law is a central London law firm, practising from offices facing the High Court in the Strand.

The practice traces its roots back to 1974 and is the successor practice to Saunders Law Limited. Our partners pride themselves on being accessible to the firm’s clients, and they have a “hands on” approach to legal work and to the supervision of staff working on our client’s cases. You can find out more about the work we do and the services we offer through our News and opinion posts below.

Police dog bites and other injuries

An autistic man bitten by a police dog leading to serious injuries has been vindicated, with a jury finding that he suffered a reckless assault at the hands of a police dog let off the leash. He was awarded £45,000 in damages.

Police forces across the country train police dogs for lots of different tasks, including detection of drugs, explosives or cash, finding missing persons, and locating evidence. One key role is in the pursuit and apprehension of suspects and to protect officers. It is especially important that dogs used as weapons in this way are properly bred, trained and handled. In 2016, the Met Police alone had over 200 operational police dogs. Police dogs can inflict very serious injuries, and from 2011 to 2013 827 people were bitten or otherwise injured by Met Police dogs, including 24 innocent bystanders. In recognition of this, police dogs require annual training, testing and re-licensing, regulated by a national policy.

However, the responsibility for how an individual officer’s suitability to be a dog handler is assessed remains with local forces. This is important because when and whether a police dog is deployed, how it reacts and what injuries it inflicts will in many cases depend on the handler rather than the dog. In the same way as when the police use handcuffs, a baton, a Taser or a gun, the use of a dog as a weapon has to be justified. This is true for both the decision to use force in the first place, and how much force is used. 

If you have been injured by a police dog, either as a bystander or as a suspect, you may be able to take action against the police. This could be by way of a police complaint, raising issues about the dog handler’s decisions and/or training as well as the dog’s training and licensing. You may also be able to bring a civil claim for compensation against the police. From 2011 to 2013, the Met Police alone paid out over £240,000 in recognition of the injuries inflicted by police dogs.

Contact Saunders Civil Liberties Lawyers Today

At Saunders Law we have experience of advising victims of police dogs bites. If you would like to discuss with a member of our team to see if we can help you, please call us on 02076324300 or contact us via our online enquiry form.

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