Listen to or read Episode 2
‘Cambs Cops: Our Stories’ is the force’s first true crime podcast series, providing an insight into policing in Cambridgeshire.
This podcast is available to watch and listen via the media player with subtitles included. A written video transcript of the episode is also available below.
Read the transcript for Episode 2
(Sound of dog barking)
Presenter: Hello and welcome to another episode of Cambs Cops: Our Stories. Today we're going to be discussing undoubtedly the most popular branch of the policing family, our four-legged friends, the dog unit.
From sniffing out evidence such as drugs or firearms, to finding missing people or catching criminals, our police dogs really are vital in helping us keep Cambridgeshire safe.
In this podcast we speak to dog unit sergeant Becky Jones and dog handler Samuel Davies to find out what life is really like working alongside our crime fighting canines. We also speak to Wood Green dog rehoming manager Chris Bennett to find out how some rescue dogs get a second chance thanks to the force. We hope you enjoy the podcast and remember the nose knows.
Dog handler Samuel Davies: I love dogs always had I enjoy my job, I mean what better job is there that I can go to go to work every day with my dogs.
Sergeant Becky Jones: So we've got some, we call them DCW so drugs, cash and weapons. It should be drugs cash and firearms really because it's firearms that they search for rather than weapons that you would suggest would be a knife or anything like that it's actually firearms or component parts of firearms. We have dogs that search for mobile phones, we have explosive detection dogs, so you know event like the Olympics they are involved in a lot searching all the venues for any devices, making sure everything's safe and we've recently just had two dogs that have licensed as victim recovery dogs, so they are trained to detect blood and body fluids so they can be used for crime scenes.
I remember one of the handlers telling me a story about, I don't know which force it was in, but these dogs have been used for a rape scene where scenes of crime have been in and couldn't find anything and one of the VR dogs has gone in and found a tiny speck of semen on a carpet so they were able to narrow down the search part of the room, cut that piece of carpet out and then analyse that and manage to get a conviction from it. So yeah, they're amazing and I watched them licensed last week and it's just unbelievable what they can do.
Dog handler Samuel Davies: Back in the drugs cash and weapons course that finished at the the end of last year I believe there were six of us on the course and four of them actually come from a rescue centre.
Chris Bennett: So I'm Chris Bennett, I'm the dog care team manager at Wood Green Animal Charity, so my role is to oversee the daily care of probably about 80 to 100 dogs we have in our care every day.
So when we look at dogs that would suite police dogs and other working homes in general, quite often we see owners that bring dogs seeing with behaviour issues, so the dogs are overexcited and they're stealing things and they're jumping up and getting highly aroused and tugging on clothes and being destructive, and then when we see the dog in and we just see this high drive the dog is just bored and frustrated.
One of the first alarm bells for us is really - would this dog rather have a job than just be a pet? You know, it's a great life for the majority of dogs we take in to be a pet, but when we see them but just want to use their nose and they want to work and there's so much frustration pent up inside them that they want something to do. Yeah giving the police a call to say - you know are you interested in this chap? It's one of the highest things on our agenda at the moment. So TJ was one of the ones that came to us in in his prime adolescence really, his owners kind of couldn't cope with his behaviour. Again, we had this high drive dog who was just getting bored and frustrated with things not happening fast enough and fun enough for him. We worked with his behaviour in kennels because he was jumping up and tugging on staff's clothes and that kind of thing we rehomed him, but he came back to us, we tried a foster home, and he came back to us, and you know we're not going to give up on a dog of his age without perfect temperament, but just that bored drive. So we got in touch with the police, one of the officers came over and met him and yeah giving him that focus and giving him something to do seems to have completely worked for him. He seems to be a huge success with you guys from what I'm hearing, which is great because I'm not so sure he would have been successful as a generic, you know, as a pet.
As a lot of us do have dogs I think he had far too much in his head going on to just sit on the sofa most of the day.
Dog handler Samuel Davies: After a month or so I had the opportunity to take on TJ who is a Labrador who came from Wood Green Rescue Centre, and yeah after a month or two of having him it was pretty evident that he was going to have the right sort of behaviours and drive to become a specialist search dog. He went on to a drugs cash and weapons course and we finished that in November.
Sergeant Becky Jones: I've got Clifford. So he came from a pet home in Luton at 11 weeks old, walked into the house and immediately fell in love with this little puppy with a wonky ear. He doesn't have his wonky ear anymore, unfortunately he's grown out of that.
Yeah, so he was given to us by a pet home. He came with the name Rico actually and I took I brought him home, and my teenage daughter, I walked him in the back where she said can we call him Clifford and I was like - there is no way I'm calling the police dog Clifford - but you know within 30 seconds he was called Clifford. Yeah he's doing really well - my daughters are early 20s and mid teens and I'd forgotten what it was like to have a baby, getting up in the middle of the night. The progress he's making and the little sort of developmental steps he's taken you can just see things clicking in his head every now and then. It's really lovely, but it's hard work, but I wouldn't change it, it's brilliant
Dog handler Samuel Davies: So I was very fortunate with TJ actually because from passing his course the very first job he helped in assisting locating a very large amount of suspected control substance and a warrant. So yeah, I was very happy with that decision that was his first ever search. Recently, again it just shows how great the dog's nose is and how much they offer us is a vehicle was stopped, a drug search was conducted on that vehicle, officers had searched it, actually specially trained search officers, so I'll come there after where they were pretty happy there was nothing in the car. TJ went in there where he actually indicated on the door, so upon further investigation we looked and there's actually parts of this door that you can remove and take off and we found a large amount of drugs that were hidden down there. So it just goes to show obviously it would be more than likely that if it was just left to humans to search that - would it have been found? Most likely not, it was missed, so yeah it's stuff like that.
It gives a real sense of achievement all the training that we put in a bit of pride when we have jobs like that and yeah it makes me happy and proud of him.
Sergeant Becky Jones: Generally our general purpose dogs, those German Shepherds, would tend to work until they're about seven. Although the malies and the herders have a slightly longer life, they're a little bit more agile, not so many hip issues with those sort of dogs, so they work slightly longer, but generally around seven or eight our general purpose dogs will work for, and then when they retire the handler can either keep them, which many do, one of our handlers has got about six dogs I think, or they can be re-homed and Hertfordshire have got a rehoming scheme with a big long list of people waiting to re-home police dogs are retired or police dogs haven't made the grade. So yeah, they're very well looked after and our specialist dogs tend to work till they're about 10. And again, they can stay with their handlers if they want to.
Dog handler Samuel Davies: I suppose again just a special thanks to Wood Green, it's not just Wood Green, you've got places like the Dog Trust as well, that I know we've taken dogs from who are now successful dogs. They play a massive part. They obviously put a lot of work into the dogs, you can even see that a lot of the dogs that we come with a lot work has been put in for their behaviour issues to be fair, with TJ you could tell work had been done just from little things from his sit and his down and general sort of obedience and yeah they put a lot of work in to the dogs these rescue centres. We're very grateful for it, because they've given us some cracking dogs that turn into some real, real cracking police dogs. So yeah, just a thank you to to the rescue centres.
Presenter: Thank you to Becky and Sam for sharing their experiences and stories of working alongside the canines of our Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit and to Chris for sharing his rehoming knowledge, and thank you for listening. Remember to look out for the next episode of Cambs Cops: Our Stories on our YouTube channel.