Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies’ Joint Dog Section is led by an Inspector and supported by one Sergeant and 25 Police Constable dog handlers, and falls within Specialist Operations.
All of the handlers have a Home Office licensed general purpose dog which is either a German Shepherd or a Belgium Malinois.
These dogs are skilled in many areas and are routinely used for:
- tracking or searching for missing people or criminals
- searching for items of property which have been recently discarded
- the detention of a suspect
- deployment into a variety of public disorder operations from football matches to large scale civil disobedience; all of our general purpose dogs have been trained in public order tactics.
Most of the general purpose police dogs are bred for the role and undergo an initial assessment to see whether they are likely to succeed on the licensing course. Others are gifted to the Constabulary by their owners who, for a variety of reasons, have decided to let the dog go.
Some handlers also have a specialist search dog which will either detect explosives, drugs, cash or firearms. The majority of breeds used for this role are Spaniels and Labradors. Some of the specialist search dogs come from rescue centres and are assessed to check their suitability for the role.
The dogs live with their handlers and traditionally serve for about seven years after which they are retired. Normally the bond between handler and their dog is so strong that the handler will keep the dog as a pet, however on other occasions the dog is re-homed to suitable candidates who can fulfill the strict criteria.