Police dogs’ welfare checked across Herts

From left, PCC Olly Martins, dog handler PC Paul Rogers and Herts PCC David Lloyd with springer span

From left, PCC Olly Martins, dog handler PC Paul Rogers and Herts PCC David Lloyd with springer spaniel Ziggy, aged four, who is an explosives dog. - Credit: photo supplied

THE police have launched a new tri-county voluntary scheme to check the welfare of police dogs across Herts, Beds and Cambs.

Scheme administrator Brian Pereira, who is based at Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) office, said: “Each of the three counties has its own local volunteers who make unannounced visits to police dogs in their force area at police stations and during training, to ensure they are being well looked after and treated correctly.

“Their visits are fully audited and recorded, with an annual report produced which will be carefully scrutinised by each of the PCCs.”

The scheme, endorsed by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, will ensure that in the unlikely event of anything going tragically wrong, the PCCs would be alerted very quickly.

Since the tragic death of a police dog in another force area while training in 2003, animal welfare lay visiting schemes were recommended by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

By 2006 both Beds and Herts had their own schemes running and this became a joint scheme with the collaboration of the Beds and Herts Police Dog Units in 2009.

Between April and October 2012 the Herts and Beds visitors made 71 inspections, reporting back four negative comments but no concerns.

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The addition of Cambridgeshire has created a tri-county programme, keeping down the cost to run it while maintaining the highest standards of dog welfare in all three police forces.

David Lloyd, PCC for Herts, said: “This is a unique arrangement that will ensure the dogs used in all three police force areas are healthy, happy and able to provide a good service to the public.”

Mick Chidgey, assistant director at Dogs Trust, said: “We oversee 27 welfare schemes in UK police forces and as Herts was one of the best in the country, we are excited to see it extended to all three county forces.

“The welfare of working dogs is critically important – they have the same basic needs of any intelligent, sensitive animal.

“We are pleased to oversee this independent scheme which will give the public the confidence that police dogs are well cared for and treated with respect by their handlers.”

The three forces generally use German Shepherds, which are used for searching, tracking, arrest work and crowd control. Other breeds, including springer spaniels, are used to search for drugs, firearms, explosives or cash.

The inspections observe the five ‘freedoms’: from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, injury and disease, the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.