‘Essential’ joint dog section to face reductions amid specialist cuts
The number of police dogs and officers in a joint unit between two forces will be reduced to make savings.
Thames Valley Police confirmed its shared dog section with Hampshire Constabulary, made up of 60 officers, would be cut – a decision that was made in December last year.
Chief Constables Francis Habgood and Olivia Pinkney said they would prefer the reductions to be achieved “on the basis of natural attrition”.
If a handler retires, a dog may be passed to another officer, transferred to another force or retired.
The two forces are currently consulting dog section staff, stakeholders in the organisation and staff associations for a new model design as it is not yet “in a position to confirm any associated savings”.
Currently, the joint unit is made up of six sergeants and 54 police constables, all of whom have a minimum of one dog each.
Some officers have a second dog with capabilities such as explosive search, victim recovery and specialist search.
Cuts to the specialist teams at Hampshire Constabulary have been described as “devastating” by the federation.
The force is planning to reduce 110 officers and 52 police staff from 14 teams, including surveillance, roads policing and force support units to save £8 million.
John Apter, chair of Hampshire Police Federation said police dogs are an “essential part of policing”.
“Police dogs and their handlers provide critical support in many areas such as firearms situations, public order, searching for people and property and much more, the list goes on and on,” he added.
“To reduce police dog numbers is short sighted and I would urge both chief constables to stop and think before it’s too late.
“If anything we need to increase our police dogs not reduce the ones we have. If we reduce the numbers of dogs we have I genuinely fear for their future sustainability. To potentially lose police dogs from policing is unimaginable but that’s the risk we face.”
A joint statement from Hampshire Constabulary and TVP stated: “In December 2017 the joint management teams of both TVP and Hampshire agreed to reduce the establishment in the operational section of the dog unit.
“The JOU Operations Management is consulting with Dog Section staff, stakeholders in the organisation and staff associations to develop an operating model for agreement on the design of a new model for the unit. As the new model has not yet been agreed we are not in a position to confirm any associated savings.”