A NEW four-legged recruit has joined the North Wales Police family to help build relationships in the community and also support officers and staff as a wellbeing dog.

11-week-old Cockapoo puppy Nansi will be putting her best paw forward as part of a pilot scheme being run in the Western area of the force.

Nansi has joined the team via the national Oskar Kilo 9 Wellbeing Programme as a wellbeing dog.

The Oscar Kilo Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs service aims to make wellbeing dogs available to all police forces, who wish to introduce a dog as part of their wellbeing provision. The service currently has representation from several UK police forces and fire and rescue services whereby wellbeing dogs are introduced after officers have dealt with traumatic or stressful circumstances or as part of a de-briefing process.

Sergeant Non Edwards, who is leading on the pilot scheme for North Wales Police said: “Nansi is the first Wellbeing and Community Engagement Dog for North Wales Police and she will form part of a 12 month pilot scheme looking at officer and staff wellbeing as well as part of our community engagement strategy to help break down barriers with hard to reach communities.

“Police officers and staff do a demanding and sometimes dangerous job, and in many roles are frequently exposed to trauma. There is plenty of evidence proving the physical benefits of having a dog, however emerging research clearly shows the many ways in which dogs can provide support with mental health by creating a sense of calm, improving daily emotional and psychological stresses and helping people to deal with the impact of a traumatic event.

“A lot of work and training has been done with the Oskar Kilo 9 Wellbeing National Team to ensure we have the correct provisions in place to introduce a welfare dog in the workplace. We are extremely fortunate to have wonderful sponsors who have given their time, service and funding who will assist us with training and supporting Nansi throughout her career. We’d like to extend our thanks to Pets at Home in Bangor, Idris Morris in Llanddeiniolen, Caernarfon, Trainer – Mr Geraint Strello and Cibyn Vets in Caernarfon. There will be no cost to the taxpayer.

“Nansi has already received a very warm welcome at some of our police stations and I’m very much looking forward to seeing her develop and having her as part of our Neighbourhood Policing team in Caernarfon and Bangor where she will regularly come out on patrols with us and form part of our community engagement events.”

The scheme has the full support of Chief Constable Carl Foulkes. He said: “Wellbeing is incredibly important in the workplace and particularly so after the challenges of Covid-19.

“We all know that policing has both a physical but also psychological impact when we are seeing and dealing with harm and trauma on a regular basis. Over recent years police forces around the country have recognised the value of dogs in helping officers and staff with their wellbeing.

“It is hoped by introducing Nansi to the team will result in better support for officers and staff resulting in less sickness through to early intervention and support being given. I’m sure she will have a positive impact on everyone around her, she is a delight and we are so proud that we are part of this worthwhile initiative.”

Mark Jones, General Secretary and Treasurer of the North Wales Police Federation said: “It is incredibly important that people feel they can talk about their mental health, particularly in a job that presents people with challenging and traumatic situations such as policing.

“Nansi will be able to offer some light relief from the often difficult job officers do, and anything that makes people feel positive and gets them talking should be encouraged.”

A review at the end of the 12-month pilot will be completed to confirm the next steps with regards to a welfare dog provision across the Force. However, it is safe to say that Nansi is and will continue to be a permanent and important part of Team North Wales Police.

Further information regarding the Oskar Kilo Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs initiative is available via OK9 Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs • Oscar Kilo