PCCs join Dog Welfare Volunteers for latest canine check up
The welfare of dogs serving in police forces was top of the agenda for Police and Crime Commissioners for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire as they joined Independent Dog Welfare volunteers on a recent visit to Bedfordshire Police Headquarters.
Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd and Olly Martins, PCC for Bedfordshire made the visit to meet with volunteers from the Independent Dog Welfare Scheme, who dedicate their time to monitor and assess the welfare of dogs working across all three forces of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The scheme cross-checks both the welfare of the serving animals and also condition of supporting police vehicles against a number of criteria relating to physical condition, health and suitability for purpose.  The Commissioners met with volunteers as they assessed nearly a dozen serving animals on site, following a parade in front of officers and vehicle check to raise any on-going issues.
Volunteers meet a minimum of every six months with the scheme administrator, Dog Unit Manager and Dogs Trust representative with findings logged and fed back to the appropriate dog unit for follow up. Visitors are kept abreast of action taken and any serious issues found can be immediately escalated by reporting to the Dog Unit Manager. Many volunteers build a personal rapport and understanding of each of the force’s dogs as long-serving supporters of the scheme.

Commissioner Lloyd said: “Police support volunteers represent a significant opportunity to increase the capacity and capability of the Constabulary and to increase the trust and confidence of the public in its police force. Our volunteers not only keep checks on police standards and procedures but also offer a fresh perspective on the way we work.
“It is clear from our visit today there is clear and genuine love for our police dogs who play such a crucial role in supporting our officers. Their specialist skills increase our efficiency and effectiveness as a force and it is equally important to ensure the correct checks and measures are in place to support their welfare.”

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said: “Police dogs provide vital capability to officers in searching for people, drugs and firearms, and they are a very popular policing asset. Nonetheless it is important to ensure everything is at it should be in terms of our animal welfare responsibilities, and the Independent Dog Welfare Scheme is a valuable way of providing just such a safeguard.”
The Independent Dog Welfare Visiting Scheme was established in December 2012, ahead of planned moves to merge the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Police Dog Unit and Cambridge Dog Unit. The team is currently made from four unpaid Dog Welfare Volunteers, two in Hertfordshire, one in Bedfordshire and one in Cambridgeshire.
The scheme is administrated from the Hertfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on behalf of all three participating counties, who also produce an annual report which outlines its key findings. The latest annual report can be found here.