sniffer dogs used to find missing people and dead bodies "urgently" need
better training and monitoring, according to an official report.
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
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
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
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
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
Matthews in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire
The dogs found
evidence of dead bodies, but officers later discovered the corpses were
nothing to do with her disappearance.
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.