This weekend, various media outlets have reported on the case of my client Jess Andrew who has suffered severe injuries as a result of a Police dog attack at a “rave” on the outskirts of Bristol.
This is a shocking incident which raises real concerns about Police misuse of the powers of violence with which they are entrusted. Whilst the event was illegal, it was a dance party filled with young people having a good time, yet a small army of Police officers and dogs was deployed against them, and this heavy-handed approach by the Police appears to have risked turning the situation into a battlefield.
Police dogs are often anthropomorphised into ‘heroes’, but the fact remains that they are animals with predatory instincts and are not there to serve as faithful companions to Police officers, but as weapons to be deployed, as all weapons should be, as a last resort. What is more, Police dogs are weapons with minds of their own, and are capable of inflicting particularly horrific injuries with the ripping and tending of their jaws.
There appears to be no justification at all for the dog in this case either being instructed or allowed to bite Jess, compounded by the lack of care and control displayed by the Police handler who allowed his dog to maintain its attack on Jess for so long.
To date, the Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset, whilst declining to comment on Jess’s case, has nevertheless asserted that “significant violence” was displayed towards the Police by sections of the crowd, and that ‘missiles’ were thrown. Whilst the full facts of what went on in the wider incident remain to be established, I can confirm that Jess herself, as she recounted to The Independent, was doing no more than dancing before the apparently out-of-control dog starting ripping open holes in her leg.
My client has effectively been maimed for life, for the ‘crime’ of attending a dance party. The Police should be held accountable for this, and I urge Chief Constable Andy Marsh to issue a full and frank apology to Jess – in equally prompt and robust terms as his immediate threat to “hunt down” anyone guilty of violence towards Police Officers at this event. The fact is that no Officers suffered any serious injury; the same cannot be said of Jess.
Does the Chief Constable’s vociferous enthusiasm for “hunting down”, and punishing with the full force of the law, perpetrators of violence, extend to Police Officers?
Experience says not; but time will tell.