A new project dedicated to the welfare of police dogs in Surrey has been launched thanks to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office.
Commissioner Lisa Townsend toured the Surrey Police and Sussex Police Dog Training School’s internationally renowned kennels for the first ever meeting of the Animal Welfare Scheme, an initiative based on guidance from the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA.
A number of volunteers drawn from Surrey’s Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) programme, which is run by Lisa’s office, will make regular visits to the kennels at Mount Browne, Guildford.
They will observe, comment and report on the condition and welfare of police dogs, as well as the conditions under which they are housed, trained, transported, and deployed.
Independent reports will be submitted to the Commissioner’s office after each visit. The scheme is supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which upholds it as an example of ‘good practice’ for forces.
Lisa said: “We are incredibly proud of the Surrey Police Dog Training School which rightfully has a reputation that is admired not only in the UK but across the world.
“I’m confident that every police dog based at our kennels is fit, healthy and happy to be working alongside our officers.
“However, introducing the Animal Welfare Scheme increases transparency and provides that independent scrutiny on the welfare of the Force’s dogs which is really important. I’m looking forward to reading the reports from our brilliant volunteers.”
The Forces’ kennel is licensed to hold up to 50 dogs. Staff based at the site breed and train dogs for use around the world. Its own dogs are used for a range of policing purposes, including searching for missing people, the detection of drugs and explosives, and helping to detain criminals.
Louise Crawford, who coordinates the scheme for the Dogs Trust, said: “I’m delighted that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey has adopted the Animal Welfare Scheme for their police dog section.
“This ensures there is an open and transparent process to monitor the welfare needs of these amazing working dogs. Dogs Trust is proud to support this scheme and look forward to working in partnership with the force going forward.”
Geoff Wiltshire, Operational and Dog School Manager, said: “Our force dogs are a hugely important resource for operational policing. We’re extremely proud of the work they do alongside our frontline officers.
“We welcome visits from the Animal Welfare Scheme volunteers. We have offered them input and support, and we are happy to open our doors for inspections of our training, vehicle fleet and holding kennels.”
Each of the new volunteers is already part of the ICV scheme. As part of that project, trained visitors tour police stations at random to check on the treatment of people held in custody and to ensure their rights and entitlements are upheld in accordance with the Police and Criminal Act 1984.
Erika Dallinger, ICV Scheme Manager, said: “I am looking forward to getting the Animal Welfare Scheme off the ground, providing greater scrutiny to this interesting and often unseen area of policing.
“I am very thankful to the seven individuals who are volunteering on behalf of their communities to provide this oversight.”
For more information, or to volunteer, visit our Independent Custody Visiting page.