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Sniffer Dogs 'Can Hinder Police Work'

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS MARCH 2011
Original Source: SKY: 24 MARCH 2011
8:57am UK, Thursday March 24, 2011
Gerard Tubb, Sky News correspondent
 

 Police sniffer dogs used to find missing people and dead bodies "urgently" need better training and monitoring, according to an official report.  

Sniffer dog Eddie was relieved of his police duties

 The Government's National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) said specialist victim recovery dogs are not trained to approved standards, with no way of gauging their competence.

The NPIA reviewed the use of the specialist sniffer dogs two years ago, but its report has only now surfaced following a request by Sky News.

"There is no consistency in what the dogs can do and how it is done," the report states.

"Furthermore, there is no national standard for accrediting dogs and handlers or record keeping of the success rate they achieve."

The report added the dogs, which are trained to detect the smell of dead bodies, have "the potential to cause complications in an inquiry".

"There is an urgent need to have national policy on their training, accreditation and deployment," it concluded. 

The review uses a kidnap investigation to highlight how dogs have tied up valuable police time.

The animals detected human remains in old furniture that had been bought from houses where the owner had died.

The use of victim recovery, or cadaver dogs, has proved to be controversial in a number of high-profile cases in recent years.

A South Yorkshire Police spaniel called Eddie was said to have sniffed out the "scent of death" at the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey and the apartment from which Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal.

But in both cases nothing more was found and South Yorkshire Police say Eddie is no longer working with them. 

Sniffer dogs hindered the police probe into Shannon Matthew's disappearance

Victim recovery dogs from four different police forces were used during searches for kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire in 2008.

The dogs found evidence of dead bodies, but officers later discovered the corpses were nothing to do with her disappearance.

"The properties searched contained a high level of second-hand furniture bought from dwellings where someone had died," according to the NPIA report.

"This resulted in numerous indications that required further investigation to confirm whether they were connected to the investigation, or to previous owners of the furniture."

The Association of Chief Police Officers told Sky News it was consulting individual police forces and hoped to have national training standards for the dogs later this year.

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