Police dogs are used to search premises for explosives, cash, weapons or drugs.
Cleveland Police, Durham Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police are to join their police dog sections to create a single integrated service from summer 2016, in a move that will reduce overall costs by more than three million pounds over the next five years and enable a substantial 24-hour dog unit to be retained across the three forces.
Police dogs carry out a wide range of duties to support police operations, including tracking people, chasing down criminals, finding explosives, cash, weapons or drugs, “passive” drug identification, keeping public order and supporting firearms officers. Many of these tasks require highly specialised training, which means that, at the moment, each Force only has a limited number of police dogs with these skills.
Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary embarked on a shared dog unit earlier this year and hope to build on this success through the further collaboration with North Yorkshire. Police dogs and their handlers from the three forces will all be trained in the same way and will adopt the same tactical approaches. This will give each force access to more police dogs per shift, as well as greater access to specialist police dogs to cover particular types of operations.
The decision to progress the combined dog section was made last week by Barry Coppinger, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer, and their counterparts in the other two Forces, as part of the Evolve Programme – a three-Force initiative to look at how the police can improve services and save money by collaborating across organisational and geographical borders.
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “People across Cleveland and beyond will have seen the brilliant work of our shared dog unit on Police Interceptors. We hope to build on this work through our collaboration with North Yorkshire Police, which will mean we have more officers and specialist dogs available for deployment. It’s never been so important to look to collaboration to strengthen our resources in these challenging times. This allows us to continue to have specialist police dogs on Teesside at a time when we are all thinking and planning for the consequences of limited resources.
“Criminals don’t recognise borders, and we need to stay one step ahead by equipping and strengthening our specialist teams in cross-border working.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “This is good news for Cleveland. Police dogs and their handlers will remain on Teesside and significant savings have been made to the public purse. We have been at the forefront of collaboration in the region so it’s only right that we look to build upon our recent successes with a strengthened dog unit across the three force areas. The financial impact of Government cuts to the police service are far-reaching, I’m keeping a watchful eye on the plan in Cleveland and I am impressed by the innovative and smart approach the Force has to saving money.”
The Integrated Dog Support Unit will improve operational capacity, provide the police with a more flexible resource and reduce costs by a minimum of £600k per year across the three Forces - with £179k of those savings in Cleveland.
Posted on Thursday 29th October 2015