Black labrador awarded for helping witnesses and victims of crime

Credit: ITV News Meridian

A dog working with Kent Police has been awarded with a medal for helping victims and witnesses who have gone through traumatic experiences.

Oliver, a 6 year-old black labrador, has been specially trained to support vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime as part of a project between Kent Police and Canterbury Christchurch University.

It is the first scheme of its kind in the UK.

He was given the PDSA Order of Merit at an awards ceremony in London for his outstanding contribution to society.

Oliver was flown to the UK from America in 2018 and has been working with psychologists Dr Elizabeth Spruin and Doctor Katarina Mozova.

He has also been working with Detective Constable Rachel Freeman of Kent Police, who was at the ceremony to see him awarded with the medal.

"I first became involved with Oliver at our police college where I trained officers in how to interview vulnerable victims" DC Freeman said.

"As a specialist safeguarding officer, I was aware of how dogs like Oliver were supporting victims in America and Canada and was really struck by how helpful this could be and really hoped one day we would have dogs like him in the UK."

"It then became a reality and I started working with Doctor Spruin and Doctor Mozova, to enable Oliver to support vulnerable victims in Kent whilst they talk to officers during police interviews."

The PDSA Order of Merit is given to animals in recognition of exceptional acts of devotion to their owners or society and represents outstanding examples of the special bond that exists between animals and humans.