Police dogs are being issued with bulletproof body armour under laws designed to protect them from violent criminals armed with a variety of weapons.

Staffordshire Police is one of the first forces in the UK to introduce body armour in a bid to protect its canines against knives, bullets, spikes and impact from a wide variety of blunt objects.

The vests – custom made for each dog – include a lining first used in hi-tech space suits, which helps to keep the pooch cool.

The introduction of body armour ensures the dogs – who are going into the same high-risk situations as their handlers – have the same level of protection as police officers.

Chief Inspector Dave Kelsall, head of Staffordshire Police's armed and dog support unit, 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.

“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.

“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.”

The vests have been rolled out after extensive testing ­following the introduction of “Finn’s Law” in 2019.

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The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act prevents those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence.

The law is named after Finn, a police dog stabbed while pursuing a suspect with his handler, Pc David Wardell.

The pair had been chasing a youth who they believed to be armed when the pooch grabbed hold of the boy's leg with his jaws.

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But the suspect then stabbed the police dog in the chest and slashed its face.

Fortunately, Finn survived, but his attacked could only be charged with criminal damage in relation to his attack on the service dog.

The bizarre legal case eventually led to the creation of Finn's Law as we know it today.

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