This liaison set in motion the first positive effort to convince the Home Office and Police Forces throughout the UK of the true worth of a well-trained dog.
With Darbyshire’s enthusiasm and idea’s and Simpson leadership and influence, the Surrey police headquarters at Mountbrown in Guildford became the epicentre of breeding and training of the modern police dog. Within a short space of time the Surrey police dogs were touring the country giving demonstrations to other police forces, whilst at the same time, Sir Joseph Simpson was bringing his influence to bear on the Kennel Club and other senior police officers. Slowly, they began to understand and appreciate the potential value of the police service dog.
After a careful study of the work carried out by Harry Darbyshire, Sir Joseph Simpson reached a number of important conclusions on which further developments and progress were to be based. The most far-reaching of these was to discard the accepted notion that all police dogs should be divided into two classes, tracking dogs and criminal work patrol dogs. The evidence pointed to the fact that some breeds of dogs were capable of being trained to carry out both disciplines. He also concluded that there should be a more rigorous selection process when accepting dogs for police work, the first step towards the notion that the police service should breed their own animals in an attempt to produce the ideal police dog.
1946 also saw the formation of a small dog section within the Metropolitan Police, an important event in itself as the Metropolitan Police, serving the capital city and with the largest deployment of manpower has always been an influential component in the policing tactics of the UK as a whole. Six Labradors were purchased from Yorkshire farmers and deployed in South London, quickly proving their worth when on their first night on patrol they were used in the arrest of two American servicemen after a purse snatch. In 1948 a new breed of police dog was used on the streets of London for the first time, the Alsatian Wolf Dog, later to be known as the Alsatian or German Shepherd Dog had arrived. The first of this breed in London was called ‘Smokey’ and such was the impression that he made, that a further twelve Alsatians together with another seven Labradors were purchased. The Metropolitan Police Dog Section was growing so rapidly that a central dog training school was established at Imber Court and by 1950 the total number of trained dogs in the force numbered 90.
The popularity of the police dog was being echoed all over the UK with police forces both large and small employing dogs and handlers on their strength and setting up dog training schools to cater for the ever increasing number of dogs being used.
The value of the police dog has been recognised by all to such an extent that there are over 2500 police dogs employed amongst the various police forces in the UK with the German Shepherd still the most popular breed for general purpose work with the Belgian Shepherd Malinois catching up fast, proven when a Belgian Malinois female called Metpol Kairo Demi bred by Steve Dean of the Metropolitan Police, handled by PC Graham Clarke won the 2008 National Police Dog Trials with the highest score ever recorded.
All British police dogs, irrespective of the discipline they are trained in, must be licensed to work operationally. To obtain the license they have to pass a test at the completion of their training, and then again every year until they retire, which is usually at about the age of 8 when the majority settle into a life as a family pet with their handler. The standards required to become operational are laid down by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) sub-committee on police dogs and are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that training and licensing reflects the most appropriate methods & standards.
Many British police services now source the majority of their replacement dogs from within specialized police dog breeding programs designed to ensure that the dogs are bred with strong working ethics & health as a priority. The Metropolitan Police has the largest police dog breeding program in the UK supplying not only the capital city, London, but many other parts of the UK & the world with police service dogs