Digital detector dogs may help catch terrorists
Sniffer dogs trained to help police catch paedophiles, terrorists and fraudsters by detecting hidden digital storage devices have been unveiled in the UK.
Tweed, a 19-month-old springer spaniel, and Rob, a 20-month-old black labrador, are said to the first digital detection dogs outside the US.
The dogs have been trained by Devon & Cornwall and Dorset police, but have already been used at crime scenes across the UK. They have been used to sniff out hidden data devices such as USB sticks, SD cards and hard drives.
Ch Supt Jim Nye, commander for the alliance operations department that works across the two forces, said: “These dogs will give the police a new way to fight the threat of terrorism, paedophiles and fraudsters.”
In 2015, dog instructor PC Graham Attwood began to research whether dogs could be used effectively in this way and worked with counterparts in Connecticut in the US who use digital detection dogs.
Most dogs used by the forces in south-west England come from their own puppy breeding scheme, are given as gifts or are rescue dogs. However, Tweed and Rob were bought especially for their new role when they were about 15 months old.
Mike Real, a recently retired Connecticut state police dog instructor and co-founder of the American programme, along with special agent Jeffrey Calandra, who is the only digital detection dog handler in the FBI, were invited to Devon to train and assess Tweed and Rob. The dogs passed and were set to work.
Attwood said: “Our digital dogs have already proven to be a success and have been used in over 50 warrants executed across the UK.”