We’ve welcomed Carter and Winnie to our force and they’ve even got their own ulti-mutt mode of transport to get around in.
Two four-legged members of staff have become members of both Gwent Police and South Wales Police force’s teams and are putting their best paws forward to support the mental wellbeing of police officers, staff and volunteers across both forces and build relationships in the community.
Carter, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois/Shepherd and Winnie, a three-year-old Cocker Spaniel, are our first wellbeing and trauma support dogs and have been in place since December 2020. They have a responsibility to provide a calming presence and have helped officers deal with traumatic and stressful circumstances and de-brief processes.
Kaylee Noble, who is trained in first aid mental health, is the Dog Wellbeing Handler. Carter resides with Kaylee and Winnie with Kaylee’s Sergeant, Andrew Patterson.
“Now I don’t like to say they failed, they are repurposed!” said Kaylee.
“Carter and Winne didn’t pass their tests to become operational dogs, but their Wellbeing roles work better for everyone.
“They are familiar furry faces amongst the staff, and the three of us work six days on, three days off- wellbeing isn’t Monday to Friday, this is policing!
“It’s amazing to see just how much of an impact the dogs can have on officers and staff. Heart rates come down and they have an immediate calming effect. It’s completely different to when I used to walk into a briefing meeting on my own.
“The feedback we have had after visits has been so positive. People are opening up who have never opened up before.
“I’ve been told the visits have really helped members of the force who are going through tough times.
“The programme wouldn’t have been possible without my Sergeant, Andrew Patterson, and South Wales Police’s Yard Manager Katrina Edmonds-Daniel who are such a big part of the team.
“I feel we are only just scratching the surface of what these dogs are capable of. The whole team are determined to make a difference to the force and wider community.”
“It’s great having Carter and Winnie join our policing family. Their presence has already made a big difference.
“As two forces we work closely in collaboration in many areas, and our staff wellbeing is a key priority for both forces.
“Today we’ve launched our new wellbeing van which will make sure that we keep Carter and Winnie safe and comfortable as they go across the two force areas, fulfilling their roles.”
Inspector Damien McKeon, South Wales Police, said:
“When Kaylee walked into the PSC with Carter and Winnie with their little coats on and tails wagging the whole room just melted.
“The staff were immediately interested and queuing up to take their turn. You could sense the atmosphere in the room lighten. The staff loved cwtching Winnie and all you could hear was “oohs” and “aahs”.
“When they left, the atmosphere was upbeat. It lifted their spirits and boosted morale. I really think the team benefitted from the visit and look forward to the next time.”
The wellbeing van has been sponsored by Euro Commercials which will allow the team to travel across Gwent and South Wales force areas.
Although this is currently an internal-only resource, Kaylee has taken the dogs to community engagement events and the force hopes to increase their presence in community events and schools across south Wales.
Carter and Winnie have joined the team via the ‘OK9’ branch of Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service. The service currently has representation from 30 UK Police Forces and Fire and Rescue Services across the country. The service aims to make wellbeing dogs available to all forces who wish to introduce a dog as part of their wellbeing provision.