In this age of budget cuts, Uk Police dog sections are feeling the pressure as many have their numbers cut as Police budgets take effect. Despite all the talk from Government that front line Police numbers wont be reduced that is exactly what is happening.
Dog sections are front line, first response, operational officers. They go to all the crimes in progress in an attempt to track or search for the suspects. They attend warrants to seek out illegal substances and weapons that help to keep society safe. They assist in securing areas of risk to prevent acts of terrorism with their explosive detection dogs.
So why are they being cut?……MONEY.
It’s the bottom line. Dogs cost money to buy, train and feed. Vets bills can be expensive so for a manager (or more worryingly an accountant), cutting dog numbers can look like a quick financial fix. Those in the nose, know better.
The very reason dogs are used is because they provide an efficiency to policing which the accountants have missed. At burglary incidents the building needs to be searched for suspects. Studies have shown the dog can search quicker and more efficiently than officers. Therefore there is a saving because the dog team will do what it would have taken several officers longer to do to a lesser degree of success. You can read more about one of the many studies here.
At public disorder dogs can quell, disperse and otherwise deal with situations that would have taken considerably more officers. Not only an efficiency in staff hours but a safety issue by exposing fewer officers to the disorder. In Bristol (Uk) in the 2011 riots, just 4 dogs were able to halt a mob of 100+ who were intent on destroying Cabot Circus, a new shopping centre which may have suffered the same fate as those in other cities had it not been for the dogs. This has not saved them from a 33% cut to handler numbers.
Finding vulnerable missing persons is a task that you cannot attempt to put a price tag on and this task is a mainstay for dog teams. I could not begin to count the number of such people who have been located by dog teams in my career. If finding just one of them saved a life then that makes the dog teams too valuable to lose in my book.
The Police are often accused of being out of touch with the community and the dogs are a fascination to many that allow them to become a good ‘in’ at talks, shows, demonstrations, school visits and whilst out on patrol. There are so many benefits it is hard to mention them all but to any police managers or accountants reading this, please note that the primary use of a dog team is the saving in officer numbers that they provide in many situations. Cutting them to save money is a contradiction in terms.