Police dogs give Tom some paws for thought

Tom with police dog Amber in 1957
Tom with police dog Amber in 1957

THEY say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to their handlers it’s a whole different story.

Former Northumberland PC Tom Yeouart was certainly given paws for thought when he visited Northumbria Police HQ.

PCs Paul Atkinson and Sarah Allison and police dog Rico with Tom Yeouart

PCs Paul Atkinson and Sarah Allison and police dog Rico with Tom Yeouart

Tom was the first dog handler at Northumberland County Police, as the force was then known.

The 79-year-old and his Doberman Amber established the dog section back in 1953 and he went back to see how it looks almost six decades on.

He said: “I remember getting a knock on my door and a message that the Chief Constable wanted to see me and I was racking my brains wondering what I had done.

“But I was asked if I would like to form the dog section, and I was delighted. Back then it was just me and another handler but it grew gradually.

“There was no money for the section so I had to beg, steal and borrow, including the one van we had which used to belong to the fingerprinting department.”

Tom met dog handlers PCs Sarah Allison and Paul Atkinson, who are on their initial training course, and police dog Rico.

These days the section is made up of five sergeants and 45 PCs, all of whom have general purpose dogs. There are also 15 drugs dogs, 11 explosives dogs and eight firearms dogs.

Tom added: “The dog section is a totally different concept now.

“Back then, it was mainly nose work – searching for criminals, stolen property and missing people. It’s very interesting to see how it has changed.”