Memorial unveiled for police dogs in Chelmsford

Paul Nicholls with the statue Image copyright Empics
Image caption Paul Nicholls campaigned for the memorial

A statue to recognise the loyalty, dedication and sacrifices of police dogs has been unveiled.

The National K9 Police Dog Memorial was revealed in Oaklands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Former Essex Police dog handler Paul Nicholls was inspired to campaign for the statue after the death of his canine partner Sabre in 2006.

Dogs and their handlers came from across the country for the ceremony.

A plaque in Staffordshire is dedicated to animals that serve but Mr Nicholls wanted to see a "more fitting tribute".

Image caption The statue was created by John Doubleday

The statue, designed by artist John Doubleday, shows a police officer kneeling beside a German shepherd and a cocker spaniel to "draw attention to the dogs, rather than the handler".

Mr Nicholls, from Clacton-on-Sea, told the crowd his "world fell apart" when Sabre died of cancer in 2006.

Image caption Ludo, with handler PC Gavin Morgan, was the model for the spaniel in the statue

"They really are the unsung heroes of the police service. They do so much people don't see," he said.

The Bishop of Chelmsford gave a blessing before the speech from Commissioner Dick and a police dog display followed, which saw several "criminals" taken down by the canines.

Image copyright K9 Memorial UK
Image caption Paul Nicholls with Sabre, the police dog who inspired him to create the memorial

Commissioner Dick said that "sometimes police dogs have lost their lives in the course of their duty".

"Hence it is really important that we have a memorial like this and that the public is aware of the work they do," she added.

Finn's Law, given Royal Assent earlier this week, makes it a criminal offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal.

The legislation is named after Finn, a police dog that was stabbed while apprehending a suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 2016.

Image caption Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick unveiled the memorial
Image caption PC Emma Worrall and Canto of West Mercia Police attended the ceremony
Image caption There were demonstrations of how police dogs tackle criminals

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