Police dog cuts will let criminals escape, federation head says

Plans to create a shared police dog unit that would cut officers and reduce animals will impact on frontline crime fighting, the head of a police federation has claimed.

Neal Alston, chairman of the Herts Police Federation, which represents officers, hit out at proposals by the Herts, Beds and Cambs police authorities to merge units – which would reduce handlers from 44 to 24 and dogs from 74 to 24.

The move will save around �1.1m a year to help to meet a 20 per cent cut in government funding, the authorities said.

Mr Alston said: “Typically the government promises the cuts we face won’t be on the frontline. Certainly the dog unit is incredibly frontline.

“The chief officers are only doing it because they have no money and the impact is going to be that there will be less dogs and that will impact on the service we give Hertfordshire.

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“I have been to jobs where we have had people take off from a burglary and dogs have tracked them. Police officers can do a lot but they can’t sniff out burglars.”

A Herts Constabulary spokesman said the proposals will ensure a continuation of core functions such as support at public order incidents and tracking suspects and missing people. They also recommend using a private firm for occasions where dogs are needed which do not require a warranted officer, such as for drug searches.

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