Suffolk police dogs find temporary home at former council offices in Needham Market

Woody enjoys a game with PC Simon Hughes at the former Mid Suffolk District Council offices in Needh

Woody enjoys a game with PC Simon Hughes at the former Mid Suffolk District Council offices in Needham Market. Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Former council offices in Needham Market are back in use to train police dogs for Suffolk Constabulary.

PC Simon Hughes outside the Needham Market offices with Police dog Woody. Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTR

PC Simon Hughes outside the Needham Market offices with Police dog Woody. Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Mid Suffolk District Council vacated the offices, at 131 High Street, in November last year, and the location will be used as a temporary base for the force’s police dog section.

The section trains general purpose dogs – German shepherds – as well as specialist dogs – spaniels and labradors – in both indoor and outdoor environments.

The force says the offices offer an ideal location where the dogs can train to track down people, drugs, explosive training aids, cash, ammunition or firearms.

On Monday, the first three dogs – Ivan, Zuma and Woody – were taken to the offices to begin training.

Ivan patiently awaits his rewards - a game with his favourite toy - after successfully tracking down

Ivan patiently awaits his rewards - a game with his favourite toy - after successfully tracking down PC Tony Russell in the former offices. Picture MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL - Credit: Archant


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Police dogs undergo a rigorous 13-week training programme when first learning their role, followed by regular training sessions until they retire.

The training is an interim measure while the long-term future of the site is secured.

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As part of the training Suffolk police could arrive at the offices at any time of day or night to allow the trainee dogs to get used to the unpredictable schedule of police work.

The council says residents who see police vehicles attending the site at odd hours should not be alarmed as this is part of the training.

The former offices are also protected by 24/7 security to ensure there is no misuse of the site. All equipment used in the training of the dogs is brought to the site by police, and removed again when the dogs leave.

The use of the site is being provided to the force by Mid Suffolk District Council at no cost.

Councillor Nick Gowrley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council and cabinet member for assets and investment, said: “The former offices in Needham Market is a key site within the town, and we’re working hard to secure a future for the site that will help Needham grow and be the stronger for it. “While we do so, we want to put the site to the best possible use. Welcoming PC Russell and his police dogs to the site not only helps Suffolk police prepare their dog section for any emergency, it also makes sure the former officers are still being used for the people of Suffolk.

“This is an interim measure, and we will be updating residents shortly on what comes next at the site.”

Temporary Sergeant James Thomas, of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We are extremely grateful to the district council for allowing us to use this space for general and specialist training as it is of great benefit to the force and the dogs.”

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