A new scheme aimed at ensuring the welfare and proper treatment of police dogs is being launched for the first time in Wiltshire.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is introducing the Animal Welfare Scheme.

It was initially established after the National Police Chief Council’s review conducted in the aftermath of the death of Acer, a police dog, in 1997.

Supported by the Dogs Trust, the programme sees volunteers making regular visits to check on the welfare of dogs in vehicles, kennels and the dogs unit or training areas.

It aims to ensure a safe, clean and engaging atmosphere for the dogs and provides a regular check to make sure standards meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Having been successfully tested by Lancashire Police, the scheme is now being launched in Wiltshire, with volunteers having been appointed and trained in the past three months.

Wiltshire police and crime commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, said: "The welfare and treatment of police dogs is crucial as they provide officers with invaluable operational assistance and should therefore be treated with the utmost care and respect.

"A main priority in my police and crime plan is ensuring the force has the right tools, resources, and equipment to do the job.

"Part of that is ensuring all the necessary frameworks around animal welfare are in place to support the force and enable them to run the dogs unit to the highest standard."

Chief constable Catherine Roper added: "I very much welcome the visit to our dog section by the Dogs Trust today, alongside the wider launch of the Animal Welfare Scheme.

"This scheme is imperative to ensuring that our police dogs are cared for and trained to the very highest of standards – something we take incredibly seriously.

"Our police dogs put their trust in us to look after them and in turn, they carry out incredibly important work such as finding missing or wanted people and discovery of items such as drugs, cash or firearms.

"They are unsung heroes of our force and they play a huge role in Keeping Wiltshire Safe."

Louise Crawford, animal welfare scheme coordinator, said: "I am delighted that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire has adopted the Animal Welfare Scheme for their dog unit.

"This ensures that there is an open and transparent process to monitor the welfare needs of these amazing working dogs."