Following the death of a Police Dog whilst in training in Essex in 1997 and the resulting loss of public confidence in training methods, a review was carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
From this a strategy was developed to restore public confidence, part of this was the establishment of Animal Welfare Lay Visitors Schemes, the Hertfordshire scheme was established in 2006 by the Constabulary’s Dog Unit.
In 2009 the Police Authority took over the administration of the scheme until November 2012 when I as Police and Crime Commissioner became responsible for this worthwhile enterprise.
In February 2009, Herts and Beds entered into a collaborative agreement and the Joint Dog Unit was established on the 1st April 2009 and was headed by Chief Insp. Mark Canning.
Collaboration between the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Police Dog Unit and Cambridgeshire’s Police Dog Unit was completed on 1 April 2013.
In advance of this, a joint Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Independent Dog Welfare Visiting scheme was established in December 2012.
Role and Responsibilities
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have four unpaid volunteer dog visitors and Cambridgeshire has one.
The scheme is administrated from my office on behalf of all three Police and Crime Commissioners.
Volunteers meet every six months with the administrator attending along with Dog Unit Manager and Dogs Trust representative.
The scheme’s target is that the volunteers visit all police dogs in a six month period and report on their findings via visiting forms.
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.
If there are serious issues found by the visitor find they are instructed to immediately telephone the Dog Unit Manager to report.
The scheme administrator’s main duties are to:
manage the log of dogs visited
send the visitors regular updates of dogs that require visiting
collate the returned visiting forms
send regular schedules of dog training events to the visitors
administrate and chair the six monthly meetings
The Commissioner publishes an annual report about the Independent Dog Welfare Visiting Scheme.
The report contains information about the organisation of the scheme as well as key findings from visits.