The Police Dog as we know it today has only been in existence in this country since about the end of the Second World War. However, from as early as the fifteenth century dogs have been used for policing in some form or another. To begin with they provided little more than companionship and protection for the old Parish Constables on their long, lonely beats. Usually hunting dogs such as Airedales were employed or Bloodhounds for tracking down criminals.
By the end of the nineteenth century the use of Police Dogs had become well established on the continent, particularly in France, Belgium and Germany. Britain was slower to catch on but dogs were brought into service by docks and railway company police forces to guard their premises and as a deterrent to would be thieves.
The earliest record of dogs being used by the Surrey Police was during the First World War when a prisoner of war camp was established at Frith Hill, Frimley. Although most inmates were quite happy to sit out the war there from time to time some thought it their duty to escape! The surrounding countryside was ideal cover for the escapees. To assist in searching for them the police at Camberley obtained three bloodhounds for the purpose of tracking. Kennelled at Camberley Police Station and handled by Sergeant Kenward and his assistant, PC Pink, they were used several times with some success but their use was discontinued after the war.
No more dogs were used in Surrey until 1933 when the then head of C.I.D., Superintendent Tom Roberts, persuaded the Chief Constable to allow a PC Potter, who was stationed at Ash and kept Bloodhounds which he trained as a hobby, to use them for Police work. The Bloodhounds worked with PC Potter for five years, not just in the Surrey area but assisted Hampshire and Buckinghamshire also. They probed quite successful, particularly in finding clues at the scenes of crime, finding missing persons and retrieving discarded stolen property. The experiment ceased at the start of World War Two.
After the war, when the late Sir Joseph Simpson became our Chief Constable, there was renewed interest in the use of dogs. Sir Joseph was a member of the Kennel Club and had a great interest in, and knowledge of, working dogs. Through research and extensive enquiries made, it was decided that the German method of training dogs for Police work was the right way forward. Sir Joseph know of a Metropolitan Police Officer, DC Harry Darbyshire, who had great experience in breeding dogs and training them by this method. He also had his own German Shepherd Dog Anna of Avondale, a captured German war dog, with whom he competed successfully in Working Trials.
Harry Darbyshire was offered a transfer to the, then, Surrey Constabulary in the rank of Sergeant. He accepted and joined us in October 1947 bringing his dog Anna with him. After intensive training they were ready for duty and the section officially started on the 8th February 1948. Only a few weeks later Sgt. Darbyshire and Anna were called to their first incident, a burglary at the Co-op in Hersham where a patrolling Police Officer had been attacked and injured by the offenders. Within minutes of arriving Anna had tracked from the scene and located one of the offenders hiding under a hedge in a neighbouring road.
Anna continued in service until she died in August 1950. To this day serving Police Dogs and handlers compete annually for a trophy named as a tribute to the first Surrey Police Dog, The Anna of Avondale Trophy.
Due to this early success other officers were recruited and trained as Dog Handlers within the Surrey Constabulary. We also obtained our first Doberman Pinscher, Peter, who was given to us by a member of the public who found that she could no longer control him. Peter was transformed into a very good and successful Police Dog.
The Chief Constable, with his interest in working dogs, continued to reorganise and enlarge the Police Dog Section. He took a personal interest in the work and actively encouraged his handlers to enter civilian Working Trials. Between 1949 and 1968 the Surrey Police Dog Section won more that thirty five Working Trials Challenge Certificates with fifteen of their dogs sharing the awards.
A breeding programme using both German Shepherds and Dobermans was established under the charge of Harry Darbyshire and became very successful. This was to produce eleven Working Trials Challenge Certificate winners under the Surrey Constabulary prefix of Mountbrowne, most of which went on to become Working Trials Champions. The first kennels were at the home of the Chief Constable near Godalming.
The success of our training methods and breeding programme attracted huge interest from Police Chiefs throughout Great Britain. It was therefore decided to open a Police Dog Training School at Headquarters, Mount Browne, Guildford. Official kennels were built at H.Q. and were opened by Mrs Simpson on 27th September 1950. In 1967 it became the Number 5 Regional Police Dog Training School.
A great number of officers were sent, from other Police Forces from throughout the country, to Mount Browne to be trained with Mountbrowne dogs. After training they returned to their respective forces to become their first Dog Handlers.
Surrey was also instrumental in setting up Dog Sections in other parts of the world such as Kenya in 1949, New Zealand in 1956, Uganda in 1964 and Barbados in 1980.
These days we train not only Police Officers from other forces but also other Government Agencies such as Prisons and Customs from here and abroad.
The Dog School remained the same until 1992. Due to increasing demand in the training skills delivered at Mount Browne a rebuild was carried out of the kennels. This was a big step in improving the facilities available to the students and dogs attending Surrey for courses.
The Dog School now supplies training for many Forces here in the United Kingdom. Training is also supplied to selected private security companies in the country.
The majority of our customers come from Hong Kong, Singapore, The Middle East and on occasions from the Southern Hemisphere. We welcome enquiries from anywhere in the world and do our utmost to fulfil requests.