In 1997, the death of police dog ‘Acer’ whilst training in Essex and the subsequent prosecution of police officers, resulted in an understandable loss of public confidence in police training methods.
It also sparked 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 Association of Chief Police Officers (now known as the National Police Chiefs' Council or NPCC) embarked upon a thorough review of police dog training and developed a strategy 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, is a need for transparency.
In other words, the training and welfare of animals engaged on police work must be open and, as importantly, be seen to be open. To this end, the Animal Welfare Scheme has been introduced which will enable members of the local community to observe and report upon the conditions under which both police dogs and horses are housed, trained and transported.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside Animal Welfare Visiting Scheme has been established in consultation with Merseyside Police and the Dogs Trust. Our team of volunteers will make unannounced visits to where police animals are kept in Merseyside to ensure that they are being cared for appropriately.
Currently 10 volunteers are trained to check on the welfare of police animals on Merseyside.
If you would like further information on the Animal Welfare scheme please Contact the Office of the Police Commissioner.