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Well handled

PUBLISHED: 15:24 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 23 August 2010

DOGGONE IT: PC Des Kirby and his dog Sabre. Both represented the South East region.

DOGGONE IT: PC Des Kirby and his dog Sabre. Both represented the South East region.

SKILFUL police dogs battled it out to be named top dog at the national police dog trials at a historic castle. Thousands of people watched dogs and their handlers from forces across the country at Leeds Castle near Maidstone during the four day event end

SKILFUL police dogs battled it out to be named top dog at the national police dog trials at a historic castle.

Thousands of people watched dogs and their handlers from forces across the country at Leeds Castle near Maidstone during the four day event ending on Sunday.

Handlers and dogs put their skills to the test in a series of work related tasks at the National Police Dog Trials 2009.

Allyn Thomas, assistant chief constable for Kent Police's specialist operations directorate, said: "Police dogs perform a vital role in modern law enforcement and as such, are an integral part of every police force.

"They can detect drugs, cash and explosives. They can help us find missing people, evidence and clues that help us solve crimes. They are a real asset to police work and it goes without saying that police dogs have long held the interest and fascination of the public.

"Consequently, the relationship between dog and handler is crucial. They are a team. And the pursuit of excellence is what we showcased at the Trials at Leeds Castle."

Now in their 49th year, the trials encourage the professional development of the handlers and their forces, giving competitors an opportunity to share good practice.

Twenty eight finalists from around the country took part to find the best police handler and dog in Britain after successfully qualifying in the regional trials.

The overall winners were PC Dave Buckley and Chaz from Nottinghamshire.

Held in three phases, the trials included obedience tasks, agility tests, straight chasing, emergency recall, weapon attack and crowd control.

The Castle's chief executive, Victoria Wallace, said: "We were delighted to host the national police dog trials at the castle, which itself has a strong canine connection and the only historic dog collar museum in the country.

"We have also been the beneficiary on many occasions of the work police dogs do to help ensure the security of the site during special events or high-level conferences. We are only too pleased to be able to offer such a wonderful backdrop to the event."

HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented the awards on Sunday.

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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