Dog Welfare Visiting
The death of a police dog whilst in training with Essex Police Force and the subsequent prosecution of police officers, resulted in an understandable loss of public confidence in police dog training methods, generated adverse comment in the media and caused animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and Dogs Trust to stop donating dogs to the service. In response to these issues, the ACPO Police Dog Sub-Committee embarked upon a thorough review of police dog training and aimed at restoring public confidence by ensuring that police dog training methods are humane, ethical and transparent.
Central to this issue of re-building public confidence and ensuring that the welfare of animals engaged in police work is maintained and any mistreatment is identified and dealt with promptly.
A dog welfare visiting scheme was introduced in 2012 in partnership with the former Northumbria Police Authority and Northumbria Police, with responsibility for the scheme now being undertaken by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Roles and Responsibilities
Northumbria currently has five volunteer dog welfare visitors who are recruited from the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme. The scheme is administered by Dean Lowery from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Volunteers meet on a six monthly basis with the force kennel manager and Dogs Trust representative to discuss any issues that have been identified and receive updates in relation to the scheme.
Pairs of visitors attend each of the three sites where police dogs are based on a monthly basis and complete a recording form on each visit. These forms are sent to the scheme administrator who logs the findings and liaises with the dog unit if issues are noted. Issues are resolved swiftly with the visitors being kept informed of the actions taken.
The scheme administrator’s main duties are to: manage the log of dogs visited, collate the returned visiting forms and Chair the six monthly meetings.