A dedicated police officer and her four-legged partner have been named as the UK’s top crimefighting duo for their commitment to the job.
PC Kelly Walker, 37, from Broughton in North Wales, joined the police in 2006 and worked as a response officer for 11 years but always dreamed of being a dog handler.
“I saw what the dogs did and I was always amazed,” she said. She joined the Cheshire and North Wales Police Dog Unit in 2017 – part of the Cheshire and North Wales Alliance – and was partnered with Dutch herder PD Bart, now seven, who’d been transferred from West Midlands Police.
“It was my ambition as a little girl to be a dog handler, and I’ve stuck with it. My family would say it’s because they wouldn’t let me have a dog as a child! Now, I can’t believe that I get to do my dream job every day.”
Kelly – mum to nine-year-old Thomas and stepmother to 19-year-old Jayden – also has a three-year-old springer spaniel, PD Bryn, who works as a sniffer dog. But she has a special bond with Bart.
“He’s so loyal, determined and fearless; he’s a proper partner in crime!” she said. “He can also be very cheeky and troublesome too, though!”
The general purpose dog provides support to police officers, helping with tracking and searching, as well as detaining suspects. The pair also qualified to work in firearms support, helping the firearms response team on high-pressure call-outs.
Kelly was nominated by her partner and fellow police officer, PC Martin Jones, for the inaugural Thin Blue Paw Awards; organised by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation and supported by Animal Friends Insurance. He put the two forward for the best crimefighting duo award which celebrates a serving police dog and handler team who are constantly achieving outstanding operational results.
Martin said: “Kelly and Bart support all units in both police forces; which is no mean feat! Due to policing an area with the second largest footprint in the country, she can regularly be travelling long distances. She supports units who need help, new dog handlers, shares her vast knowledge and is never one to shy away from a job. She consistently shows her determination and mental strength, and is very deserving of this award.”
PD Bart has also demonstrated his dedication to his job. The duo was called to North Wales in May 2021 after a domestic violence incident and were sent to track a man who had assaulted his partner and threatened an off-duty police officer, who stepped in to try to help, with a large knife.
Kelly explained: “The man made off with his victim and with a knife so we were incredibly concerned about their welfare. We found them together and took her to safety but then he made off again. Bart found him hiding in thick undergrowth; the drone couldn’t see him but Bart knew he was there.
“While he was tracking him he put his paw through a pane of glass and sliced his toe in half. But he carried on searching and protecting me from the suspect, armed with a knife, who was potentially dangerous. He wouldn’t give up, despite his injury, which just goes to show how tenacious he is.”
Bart was then taken for veterinary care and made a full recovery.
As well as their day job, Kelly and Bart are also committed to helping police dogs across the country. They were chosen to work with a specialist company to create lightweight body armour which is now being rolled out across the force dog unit and, they hope, will eventually be used across the UK.
Kelly said: “When Finn’s Law was introduced, it made us all aware of giving our dogs extra protection. Bart and I were chosen to trial different armours and worked with a design firm to develop one that the dogs can wear as a harness which is lightweight, doesn’t restrict his agility or temperature, and is bullet, stab and slash-proof.
“He is my partner; we’ve built such a bond. I’m with him more than my family! And I want to keep him – and all of the other service dogs – safe.”
Kieran Stanbridge – trustee of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, a national dog welfare charity supporting working and retired police dogs – said: “Kelly and Bart go above and beyond on a daily basis to not only do their day job which involves fighting crime, keeping the public safe and bringing criminals to justice, but also go so much further.
“They’ve both shown their commitment to the job that they do, as well as to making a change and improving the lives of police dogs working today and in the future to keep our public safe. We’re so proud of them and we’re thrilled to name them as the UK’s best crimefighting duo!”
Chief Inspector Simon Newell said: “The bond between these extremely skilled officers and their highly trained dogs is amazing to see. They can often find themselves in dangerous situations, and together, they have the determination and ability to get stuck in, no matter what the situation.
“To see Kelly and Bart get the recognition for their commitment and dedication to fighting crime is fantastic and well deserved. Their teamwork along with other dogs and their handlers at the Alliance keeps Cheshire and North Wales safe. This award really does help to highlight just how important our dogs and dog handlers are in protecting our communities.
“That’s why on the back of Finns Law we’ve been trialling body armour for our dogs, and Kelly and Bart have been vital in helping us with this. We’re now pleased to say it’s being rolled out for our general purpose dogs, because we believe you wouldn’t send a police officer out onto the streets without the appropriate personal protective equipment, so why wouldn’t we afford the same protection to our dogs? I’m really grateful for the time invested by Kelly and Bart in trialling and developing this body armour to ensure it maximises their protection, whilst not impacting on their wellbeing or agility. It is testament to her ongoing dedication to the dogs on our team.”
Find out more about the Thin Blue Paw Foundation and the awards at: