A police officer with a love of dogs has led improvements in dog safety across the country.

In his own free time, PC Paul Croft, of Chippenham Neighbourhood Policing Team, established the Responsible Dog Owners Course (RDOC) with Blue Cross Animal Charity after noticing an increase in dog-related offences.

This is an online educational course aimed at low-level, first-time offenders who commit offences under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871. 

It aims to empower the dog owner through education, as opposed to punishment.

The course covers a range of topics on being a responsible dog owner including legislation and responsibilities, dog safety and canine communication and dog control and management.

To date, 30 police forces nationally have adopted the course and Wiltshire currently sits in the top five police forces for referral numbers, with a 0 per cent reoffending rate.

READ MORE: Plans for more than 600 homes in Chippenham move forward

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: PC Paul Croft, of Chippenham Neighbourhood Policing Team

PC Croft said: “We know that a lack of understanding and education by dog owners can play a significant part in dog bites – dogs rarely bite without provocation so this online course helps dog owners recognise the ‘canine ladder of communication’ when it comes to dog bites.”

But PC Croft’s work did not stop there, and alongside the Blue Cross, he has put together a Dog Safety Police Assembly for school children.

“During my research work, I discovered that approximately 70 per cent of dog bite incidents happen in people’s homes, with most victims being young children,” said PC Croft. 

“Last year, I delivered training to nearly 60 colleagues around the assembly talk which is aimed at Key Stage 1 and 2 children.

SEE ALSO: Avonpark Village in Winsley to get 74 retirement apartments

“It’s really crucial that children know how to deal with dogs safely.”

As well as this work, PC Croft has also developed a Wiltshire Police Dog Handbook, Dangerous Dog Act Community Protection Warning, investigation templates specific to dangerous dog incidents and is due to work alongside the Royal Mail on their Dog Safety Awareness Campaign to reduce the number of attacks on postal workers. 

Insp Pete Foster said: “The work PC Croft has carried out to improve the response to dog bite incidents not only in Wiltshire, but nationally, is exceptional and should be commended. 

“I have no doubt that the online course and the assembly for young children will help prevent future dog bite incidents and potentially save lives.”