Surrey Police led the way in Police Dog development by offering a Metropolitan Police Officer, DC Harry Darbyshire, a transfer to the Surrey Constabulary in October 1947, where he was made a Sergeant and put in charge of the Force’s new Police Dog Section.
Top image is Sgt Darbyshire with Anna of Avondale’s son Loki
Whilst dogs had been used by British Police Forces in various limited capacities prior to the Second World War, it was not until after the war that Britain’s Police Forces began to consider the possibility of using working dogs to undertake major Police work on a daily basis.
Sergeant Darbyshire was experienced in breeding dogs and training them according to the German method. This was the method Surrey Police had researched and decided to proceed with.
Sergeant Darbyshire owned a German Shepherd dog called “Anna of Avondale” that had previously belonged to a German soldier, who had served during the war. Anna of Avondale was Surrey Police’s first operational dog and together with her son, Loki, formed the Surrey Police Dog Section that would go on to lead the way in Police dog development in Britain and abroad.
Surrey Police dogs that performed well would be included in the breeding programme, with under achieving dogs being removed from the Police Dog Section altogether.
Sir Joseph Simpson, the Chief Constable, who had recruited SergeantDarbyshire was a member of the Kennel Club and his interest in working dogs led to him sanctioning the expansion of the Police Dog Section and encouraging Surrey Police’s dog handlers to enter civilian Working Trials. This led to the Surrey Police’s Dog Section obtaining even greater recognition due to the high number of awards it won.
The Secretary of the Associated Sheep, Police and Army Dog Society (ASPADS) (also known as the Working Trials Society) has stated that, “Harry Darbyshire did more than any other person to put ASPADS, Working Trials and the Nation’s Police Dog Sections on the map”. Darbyshire was credited with training over 200 dogs in his 29 years police service. He was consulted from around the world, including Kenya and New Zealand.
I was delighted to discover that the photo album containing images of German Shepherd dogs that I had won on an online auction site, once belonged to Sgt. Darbyshire.
Surrey Police’s first Police Dog, Anna of Avondale died in August 1950, but her name lives on in The Anna of Avondale Trophy, which serving Police Dogs and their handlers compete for every year in her memory.
The images accompanying this article were taken from the photo album and show Sergeant Darbyshire, who was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal), with some of his working dogs.
Sgt Darbyshire’s award of the BEM signed by the Monarch of the day.