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Police dog numbers set to be reduced in Thames Valley

The number of police dogs across Berkshire is set to be reduced in an attempt to save money.

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police have a shared dog unit, but it has been announced the section will be reduced in a bid to ‘remodel’ it and cut costs.

The shared dog unit consists of six sergeants and 54 constables, who all have and look after at least one general purpose dog.

Some officers have a second dog with specialist capabilities, such as explosive search or victim recovery.

When a dog handler retires their dog is normally passed to another handler, transferred to another force or retired but, from now on, they will remain out of service and will not be replaced.

It has not yet been confirmed how much the unit will be reduced by, but the joint unit will not see any forced redundancies.

In his January 2018 update, Chief Constable Francis Habgood of Thames Valley Police said that there had to be some changes to the way the dog section is deployed, but insisted there would be no forced redundancies.

A spokesman for the unit said that it is looking to review and develop a new model for the unit, but it is not yet able to confirm any decision.

He said: “In the Thames Valley we have more dog handlers and dogs than other equivalent forces.”

“When the new model has been developed and agreed we will be in a position to provide further details.”

The Thames Valley Police Federation had not responded to the news at the time of publication but Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter called the decision ‘short-sighted’

He said: “Police dogs are an essential part of policing.

“We should not under-estimate the impact any reduction will have on our ability to fight crime.

“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. To reduce police dog numbers is short-sighted and I would urge both chief constables to stop and think before it’s too late.”

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