The first recorded instance of the use of dogs in Police work was in St Malo, France in the early part of the 14th Century, to guard dock installations.

This use of dogs continued until 1770 when it was abolished after a young naval officer was accidentally killed by one of the dogs.

The next known police employment of dogs was in Paris in 1895 to combat street gangs that were causing police problems.

The success of the dogs in France, curbing the gangs, led to their use in Germany in 1896.

It was in Germany that the first scientific and planned development in this field took place with experiments in breeding, training and utilisation.

Through their experiments with dogs in police work, the Germans selected the German Shepherd - also known as the Alsatian - as the breed best suited for the assigned duties and the Doberman Pinscher as second choice.

In 1920 a school was established in Greenheide, Germany, the first of its kind for the training of dogs for use in the field of law enforcement. Here the dogs were trained in basic obedience, tracking and searching.

From this school came the plans and criteria for those to come and much of the training system used in modern dog section operations has been taken from Greenheide.

As in all other fields of police work, a new approach was soon to be used in the use of dogs for this purpose.

In the 1890s Hyde Park police station had 'Topper' the fox terrier, who often joined the officers on their regular patrols.

In 1914, officers of the Metropolitan police were allowed to take their pet dogs on patrol duty with them. However,other countries were much more advanced in using dogs for police work.

The achievements of police dogs in Ghent, Belgium, spread to several continental countries and by World War One, dogs were being trained to perform specific military duties, as messengers, guards and sentries. This prompted Britain to take an interest in using police dogs during the 1920s.

An experimental school was established to examine training and to see which breeds had the most aptitude for police work.

In the middle of the 1920s they borrowed the techniques that were used in Greenheide and began formally training dogs.

After World War Two more experiments were run, including a highly successful test in using dogs to accompany patrols in Hyde Park. On their very first night in the park one of the dogs foiled a purse snatching attempt, and the crime rate in the park plummeted. This success proved the value of the dog section and in 1953, a specialised training unit was set up.

By 1946 various other police forces were experimenting with dogs and in 1954 a standing committee was formed to co-ordinate the breeding, supply and training of police dogs throughout the UK.