Chief Constables of Surrey's Interest in Police Dogs 1947 to 1986

1970: Stan Wood: The chief constable responsible for forming the Surrey Constabulary Police Dog Section in 1948 was Mr Joseph Simpson. Not only was the chief constable a keen dog person but also so also was Mrs. Simpson. She was a very keen Labrador enthusiast and worked and bred Labradors for many years.

I remember her bringing a team of civilian handlers from the Surrey Dog Training Society to Hankley Common in 1963 to compete against the Police Dog Section in a tracking match. Luckily the police won the event and I remember her cheerfully driving off saying "Well done lads, you beat the arse off us."

Sir Joseph was well known for attending dog training and laying tracks for the dogs. He would lay a long track for several dogs to follow and as the dogs got him in sight would shout, "Release your dogs". The dogs in those days could be a bit tasty at man-work and some handlers were reluctant to loose their charges. He would again shout and tell them that it was an order.

The dogs released, he would run off with dogs in pursuit; before they reached him, he would have shinned up a tree to safety. On his move to the Metropolitan Police as Commissioner the interest in dogs fell to the Assistant Chief Constable Ernie Hall.

Mr Hall had a country cottage out at Tilford and each advanced course went to his house near the end of their stay where property searches were laid out in the afternoon. A huge fire was lit at teatime where sandwiches and cake were the order of the day.

This would be attended by Mr Hall, Basher Nash (Mount Browne housekeeper) and at least the force detective superintendent who was expected to attend each occasion plus of course the chief constable who in those days was Mr Herman Rutherford. In the evening Basher and Mr Hall would go off in different direction across Hankley Common laying tracks for the dogs to follow.

The tracking parties pursued followed up by the chief constable and the detective superintendent. The track would end near the Duke of Cambridge public house where on completion of the track all would finish in the bar, dogs included and the chief constable buying the first round. The evening finished at closing time. This event continued to be held until Peter Matthews became Chief Constable.

In September 1970, big changes were afoot for the dog-training set up, not only in Surrey but nationwide. Sir Peter Matthews was responsible for this change, which made the Surrey Constabulary the Regional Dog Training School for the south east.

In September of that year the force dog training staff suddenly grew from one training sergeant to an inspector in charge (Roy Wakefield), two training sergeants (Bill Redwood and I) and two young kennel maids.

I then worked with Bill for four years until his retirement from the section in 1974. He was a dream to work with. We normally had a course of twelve handlers split into two groups, each one taking responsibility for a group. We had one dog vehicle, which we had to share, and believe me there was never a fall out as to who had the vehicle. I think he probably finished off my preparation to eventually take over the section.

It's a fact that Bill was never involved with dog school training until his last four years. He worked hard, even running criminal for the rookie dogs at fifty years plus, concreted my mind on the standard that one always dealt fairly and honestly with the dogs that where given to us by members of the public - there was no deviation.

Every working morning recruits as well as instructors were expected to man brooms, shovels and wheelbarrows and make the area tidy as if it was a kennel in your back garden. Also with Sir Peter in charge, new kennels were built, a new admin block erected plus the building of a whelping block.

From about 1976 the force reintroduced a breeding programme of German Shepherds, many for our own use and some sold within the UK and a few abroad including Hong Kong and Barbados. Other big changes were to be felt within the Dog Section with the installation of Peter Matthews as chief constable.

The chief constable had been the first inspector in charge Metropolitan Police Dog Section and came to Surrey with a wealth of knowledge on police dogs. In coming to Surrey he automatically took a place on the Home Office Committee on Police Dogs and soon became the chairman. Through his knowledge and strong character and with the assistance of Mr Stanley Peck, a former chief constable and now a member of Her Majesties Inspectorate, they took the dog schools and national police dog trials through big steps forward.

We were to find huge benefits from his time in charge but of course with quite a bit of change it was not all very popular at the time. Through the chief constable came the doing away with handlers wearing civilian clothes for training and some duties and the introduction of training uniforms and berets.

The introduction to Surrey of the thirteen-week initial dog course that changed the historic way things had been done. No dog section was allowed to run dog courses for outside forces unless they were a Home Office Scientific Advisory Committee (HOSAC) approved dog training school. Dogs within Surrey appeared to come under the chief constable's direct command. If all was going well then you had a very good friend and ally but if things were not to his liking then God help you.

We were to see the introduction of drug and explosive courses under him. Also the use of dual-purpose dogs for general-purpose police dog work and dogs trained for either drugs or explosive work. He had got this idea from an old Metropolitan Police dog handler who was running police dogs in Canada. There was no way that he could be shaken from this idea and it wasn't until a change of chief constable, (Brian Hayes), that we changed to specialist dogs.

It was with Sir Peter that dog handlers were used for security patrols around Royals, military targets and important foreign visitors.

Handlers were trained to use firearms and many security patrols were done with armed patrolling dog handlers and this continued well into the 1980's. When Sir Peter retired, it was a sad day for the Dog Section and we managed to con him into a visit to his beloved Dog Section where we made him a presentation.

(Note: Sir Peter refused to go to any other department but the dog school. Denis Turner presented Sir Peter with the gift bought by the section as Sir Peter had recently promoted him to sergeant, one of the last promotions he did before retiring towards the end of 1982).

Into the seat vacated by Sir Peter came Mr Brian Hayes. Even as an ACC Mr Hayes showed an interest in the Dog Section. Whilst living with his family at Mount Browne he volunteered to become a puppy walker for one of the pups bred by us. Later when he rejoined the force as chief constable he once again volunteered to puppy walk and in fact finished up keeping one of the brood bitches at home.

His interest in the section was very welcome and even more so was his visits to the kennels on many occasions to collect dog food or collect or leave his dog if going away. I don't believe there were many inspectors that got the chief constable calling on them in their office. What a fine time to talk police dogs and how things were going.

One memorable occasion to which only I was privy was the day the chief constable decided to come with me to have his dog put to stud. We arrived at the kennels on time but were kept waiting for about two hours for the stud dog to arrive. Mr Hayes dressed in a smart suit attended the mating and at the finish was on his hands and knees supporting his dog until they had untied. I forget the state of his suit.

It was in his time as chief constable that we changed our dual-purpose drugs and explosive dogs to specialist teams. I feel that the force Dog Section was very fortunate to have had such interested men in charge for the first forty years of its existence.

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