A NEWLY promoted police officer is looking after the welfare of his staff with the help of his own dog Bertie.

As well as keeping residents safe and reassured with the help of his neighbourhood police team, new West Devon Police Inspector Nathan Walker is also taking a novel approach to his staff’s wellbeing.

Insp Walker voluntarily makes Bertie available as a wellbeing and trauma dog – part of a network of support dogs volunteered by their owners.

Insp Nathan Walker's dog Bertie.
Insp Nathan Walker's dog Bertie. (Insp Nathan Walker)

Nathan said: “Bertie is my dog, not a police dog. I run and walk with him. I take him to special support awareness days for my staff. Officers can also request the kind of support of which Bertie is part of. This includes peer support with colleagues using their own experiences to help each other. It is different from the specialist, tailored help you might receive from a GP, counsellor or therapist but can still be effective.”

Nathan, who lives and is bringing up his children in West Devon, says what gets him out of bed each day as a police officer is a desire to help people and improve life in his community.

Inspector Nathan Walker patrolling his beloved West Devon.
Inspector Nathan Walker patrolling his beloved West Devon. (Devon and Cornwall Police)

He trained in TV production and originally had ambitions to join the RAF after enjoying the Cubs, Scouts and Air Cadets growing up. He has now notched up nearly 20 years of police experience.

He said: “I am driven by my desire to make help people and my community safe. I am dedicated to public service, my love of the area, my respect for my colleagues in the police and other public sector services.

“West Devon has a very low crime rate which helps dramatically with people’s view of their quality of life, so if I’m happy to live here and bring up my family here, then want to keep it like that and for every other family.”

“Our officers can find themselves in often adverse situations and that is when they need wellbeing support. But they are still here, still helping people when they are needed the most.

“I want to help these officers and the community to come together so we can understand what the pressures are and target our activity. The West Devon policing team is part of the community so we can work together to help people feel heard, connected and safe. I am often out and about among our more remote harder to reach communities where they sometimes feel unsafe because of crime that we don’t easily get to know about.”

He said rural crime involved thefts from farms and other businesses while livestock worrying and killing by dogs was also a rising issue. Two new police community support officers have been recruited for Okehampton.

Insp Walker also said public space protection orders helped keep people safe by banning drinking, for instance, and giving police powers to disperse and confiscate alcohol if anyone refuses to move on.

To report a crime visit www.dc.police.uk or call 101.