Dig­i­tal de­tec­tor dogs may help catch ter­ror­ists

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Steven Morris

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.”

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