Merseyside dangerous dog raids: Police acted 'unlawfully'
A police crackdown that saw 22 dangerous dogs rounded up and destroyed across Merseyside was "unlawful", a court has ruled.
The dogs were seized in March as part of an operation against owners who failed to comply with rules allowing them to be kept.
The owners took legal action, claiming officers had no authority to take the pets because they had no court order.
A High Court judge agreed, ruling that Merseyside Police had acted unlawfully.
The hearing in Manchester was told magistrates were the only people who had the right to order the dogs' destruction.
The ruling, which came following a judicial review of the force's actions, could allow the owners to claim compensation.
James Parry, a solicitor acting on behalf of the owners, said: "There's nothing that can be done to bring these dogs back.
"However, what this case does do is to prevent Merseyside Police, or any other police force in England and Wales from continuing to embark on this sort of unlawful action."
Dogs banned under the Dangerous Dog Act can be exempted from the law if their owners satisfy certain conditions.
The destroyed pets, described as "pitbull type dogs", belonged to owners who had not complied with some of those conditions, such as failing to renew insurance.
Merseyside's Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward said the force had acted in "good faith".
"We believed the dogs in breach of the ongoing requirements of the exemption represented a danger to public safety," he said.
He said it was in the public interest for the law to be clarified, and the force has "noted" the ruling.