Trainee police dogs are being put through their paces at a disused mental health hospital in Swansea, as they get ready for paw patrol.
The canine constables, along with their human handlers, are in training as the next generation of police dogs for South Wales Police. Their training ground is a disused section of Cefn Coed Hospital in Cockett, where the maze of old corridors and rooms make it a perfect place for the animals to learn their new skills.
The 13-week course is aimed at training the dogs, mainly German Shepherds, in ‘person search’ skills, so they can seek out people who are deliberately hiding, or who may be lost somewhere where they can’t be seen.
PC Iestyn McNeil, course instructor, explained:
“The dogs are being trained to be able to find people. For example, if we are called to a burglary and we need to find where the suspect is hiding, we can send a dog in.
“Big old empty premises like this one are ideal for this type of training, because there is a lot of space and plenty of rooms.”
Janet Williams, Swansea Bay UHB acting director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities said:
“We were delighted to be able to offer our friends in South Wales Police the use of our facilities for training their dogs. They offer a wonderful dog handling service, and the old Cefn Coed building provided an ideal opportunity to support it.”
As well as the young dogs learning new skills, the dog-handlers they are working with are also being trained. They include PC Victoria Harding, who is training with 13-month-old Luna; PC Owain Davies, with Dewi, aged 19 months, and PC Alex Ricketts, whose dog is 16-month-old Sonny.
Cefn Coed Hospital, which was built in 1932, is now mostly closed, as services have been transferred to modern, purpose-built facilities, and, increasingly, community care.