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'Graham Colley, Lib Dem's PCC candidate wants to protect Kent's pets'

April 12, 2021 9:59 AM
By Graham Colley

screenshot pet petition pageGraham Colley, LibDem Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent candidate, is supporting a Liberal Democrat petition calling for a dedicated Police Officer to be responsible for Pet Protection.

Graham Colley said "Over 50% of Kent residents are pet owners. I understand just how heart breaking it is to lose a pet and it must be even more so when that pet is stolen. Dognapping has increased, because of the pandemic and a dedicated pet crime officer can co-ordinate, educate and fight pet-napping."

"Owners are left traumatised after a pet is stolen, with emotional impacts. The theft of a pet brings considerable heartache and stress as a member of the family disappears. Sometimes even resulting in depression, anxiety and PTSD. This petition calls for a dedicated police officer to be appointed for Kent as they have done in Nottinghamshire."

He continued "They would be responsible for investigating the involvement of organised crime in dog snatching as well as smuggling puppies from abroad. The role would also include taking a strategic overview of dog thefts and other pet mistreatment."

"A dedicated officer would not only be responsible for investigating dog theft but also should prevent them by advising dog owners of crime prevention measures such as micro-chipping, garden security and ensuring dogs are not left unattended."

Where dog nappers are caught, Graham Colley believes as well as incurring punishment they should face restorative justice so that owners can make it clear just how heart breaking the crime is. There is strong support for changing the law to reflect the emotional impact of having a pet stolen. At present, dog theft is not defined as a specific crime, with dogs classed as 'property' under the Theft Act 1968. If caught, the penalty for stealing pets is generally a small fine or suspended sentence, with the Pet Theft Reform campaign reporting that in recent years only 1% of dog theft crimes have led to a prosecution.

Graham Colley said: "I am committed to protecting our communities and my response to dog theft is dedicating resources to this type of crime. There is a clear message that police forces need to communicate better with the public on this issue with public perception and fear increasing massively."

"The rise in pet theft has been extraordinary, like nothing we have ever witnessed. As a low risk high profit crime, it is a very lucrative business and a change in law is crucial. Pet theft needs to be recognised as a crime in its own right, with the emotional impact on the victim being taken into consideration when sentencing is passed. Tougher consequences will be a much-needed deterrent. Currently thieves know that it is highly unlikely that they will even be prosecuted and if they are it will seldom carry a custodial sentence."

"During lockdown demand for dogs has skyrocketed, and prices have soared as a result. Organised crime is exploiting this situation, both by smuggling puppies from abroad and stealing dogs across the UK. Dog theft is now at an all-time high.

Since 2018, cases of dognapping have increased by 33% in the South East - with 163 incidents reported in the last year. And in the last month alone, Kent Police have reported that thefts or attempted thefts are on the rise again. Other pets are vulnerable too. Other police forces have had success in blocking thefts by appointing a dedicated police officer for pet protection. I want Kent Police to have the same."

This petition is calling on the Chief Constable of Kent to appoint a Pet Protection Officer. Read more and sign the Petition for a Kent Police dedicated officer to fight pet crime : The link is: https://grahamforkentpcc.org.uk/en/petition/protect-kent-s-pets

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

Prior to the pandemic, 24% of the population had a dog. Dog ownership during lockdown increased massively. Prices for dogs rose and incentive to steal increased massively. Some police forces have reported double digit increases in dog theft.

DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft, recorded a 170% increase in the crime, from 172 dogs reported stolen in 2019 to 465 dogs in 2020.

Key findings from the survey:

97% said that dog theft is a serious problem

22% have had a dog stolen or knew someone who had over the last year

79% of people, to whom the question was applicable, said they had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day