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West Midlands Police

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Dogs

Operational police dogs

West Midlands Police train German Shepherds and a small number of Rottweilers to carry out an identical role as operational police dogs.

Historically, police dogs have been 'recruited' into service by public donation, sale or gift. This was, and still remains, a good way of obtaining dogs. Unfortunately it can also make forward planning difficult as the dog unit can never be sure they have the right number of dogs when they need them.

As a result, a decision was made to set up a breeding programme. That way good quality German Shepherd dogs and bitches could be produced from proven stock and in enough numbers to meet training and operational needs.

This programme has flourished and today the majority of our dogs come from our own breeding programme. This is supported by staff at the breeding centre at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, near Leamington Spa.

Dog

Our selection and training

Dogs and bitches selected for West Midlands Police must be fit and healthy, temperamentally sound and no more than about two years old. They must also show they have an aptitude for working and, most importantly, be bold and courageous - without being too aggressive!

Dogs and their handlers then begin a 12-week course. During the course the dog is taught to follow a track or scent over various kinds of terrain and search for people or property which may be hidden.

The dog must be obedient both on and off the lead. It must be under the control of the handler at all times and show courage and determination when detaining a person who is trying to run away, or someone who is armed.

At the end of the course the dog will be licensed to carry out full operational duties with its handler. This will be constantly reviewed. They undergo regular periods of refresher training, which continues throughout their working life. When dogs reach about eight years of age they are retired into the care of their handlers.

Specialist dogs

Specialist search dogs like Springer Spaniels and Labradors are used extensively in the West Midlands to locate drugs or firearms and explosives.

Dogs are also continually recruited from rescue centres and from members of the public. Dogs and bitches which show a high drive and willingness to retrieve toys generally make the best search dogs.

All specialist dogs are handled by officers who already have a general purpose police dog. The handler has responsibility for both training and operational deployment.

Dog

Dog training history

Like many other police forces in the UK, West Midlands Police started using dogs after the end of the Second World War. Then it was recognised that trained dogs using their natural instincts could play a major role in maintaining law and order and catching offenders.

In 1951, 'Kim' and 'Flash' were recruited to work the streets of Birmingham. In 1960 a trophy, named after Kim, was introduced and is still competed for annually by all handlers and their dogs in the West Midlands.

From those early beginnings, the dog section began to grow and in 1959 they moved to their first real home. It was an old farmhouse affectionately known as 'Home Farm' within the grounds of Harborne Golf Club, Birmingham.

The dog section continued to grow and, in 1974, when West Midlands Police was born, it boasted over 100 dog handlers.

By the late 1980s 'Home Farm' at Harborne was becoming overcrowded and a search began for a larger site. The current site at Balsall Common in Solihull was officially opened by HRH Prince Michael of Kent in 1995.


Dog training centre

The West Midlands Police dog training centre in Balsall Common, Solihull, offers courses tailored to suit the needs of individual forces or organisations. Staff at the centre are happy to offer advice and guidance.

The dog kennels have been specifically designed with dog comfort and hygiene in mind. They offer high-quality competitively-priced dog and handler training to police services and other organisations.

For more information call 101 and ask for the dog training centre.


Our breeding programme

Trainers have operated a breeding programme for German Shepherd dogs since 1994 and now produce upwards of eight litters annually, each of 40 to 60 puppies.

The scheme ensures that new dogs can replace 'retirees' and be healthy and hard working. Unfortunately, some dogs, although healthy, fail to make the grade to become police dogs. These dogs and surplus puppies from litters are offered for sale, either to other police forces or to members of the public.

Full details of each litter will be published on this site as they become available.

For information about forthcoming litters, email the Dog Unit - breedscheme@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk or call 101.

Dog

Puppy walking services

What's it about?

In common with other police forces in the UK which use German Shepherd dogs, West Midlands Police have found it increasingly difficult to find enough dogs of the right quality to carry out operational police duties.

In view of this, we're one of several forces which operate a breeding programme. Many of the police dogs you see patrolling the streets of the West Midlands have graduated through this scheme.

How does the scheme work?

At the age of seven weeks, puppies leave their mothers and are placed with families who act as puppy walkers. They then look after them up until the age of 12 - 15 months depending on the dog’s development.

Do puppy walkers have to train the dogs?

No. All that is asked of puppy walkers is that they give the puppy a lot of play time and are normally at home to look after it for most of the day.

What sort of thing would a puppy walker have to do?

Nothing out of the ordinary…allow the puppy to experience the noises of household appliances like vacuum cleaner, TV and washing machine. Socialising the puppy with other people is important by taking her/him for walks and introducing it to the sight and sound of traffic, as well as other animals. In essence, just allowing it to grow up and develop in a happy and carefree environment without any fears.

Does it cost the puppy walker anything?

All equipment, food and veterinary care are paid for by us.

Who can become a puppy walker?

Anybody can apply to be a puppy walker, provided they have the time.

If you feel you can help by looking after one of our puppies, please contact West Midlands Police Dog Training Centre on 101 or complete this form and email to breedscheme@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk