Cuts to police dog unit are ‘devastating blow’, says Hampshire federation chairman

Sgt Brendan Close with his Belgium Shepherd Merlin who is four years old.''Picture: Sarah Standing
Sgt Brendan Close with his Belgium Shepherd Merlin who is four years old.''Picture: Sarah Standing
One of three images released by police. Credit: Hampshire Constabulary

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A LEADING voice in county policing has criticised ‘dangerous’ plans to ‘slash’ Hampshire’s dog unit.

John Apter, who chairs the Hampshire Police Federation, has called job cuts to the section ‘short-sighted’ – as the county force bids to save £320,000 across its joint operations team with Thames Valley Police.

The decision to shrink the team was made in December, and will see its current roster of six sergeants and 53 handlers reduced to 44 officers in total.

Reflecting on the plans, Mr Apter said cuts honed in on the cost of the dog section, but ‘ignored’ its value.

He said: ‘Police dogs provide an essential role and are depended upon by officers.

‘The contribution they bring to policing can’t be underestimated – this decision is a devastating blow to officers and the public.’

He added: ‘I genuinely fear for the sustainability of our police dogs.

‘With fewer available to respond to calls they will be seen by some as a luxury and I have little doubt will be reviewed again in the future.

‘This will not keep the public or my colleagues safer, it’s the wrong decision and one we will come to regret.’

• READ MORE: Hampshire police spent £2m on consultants drawing up £28m cuts plan

No exact ‘deadline’ has been placed for the cuts, which come as Hampshire Constabulary looks to save £7m.

ACC Dave Hardcastle, for Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, said the savings would have no impact on police service to the community.

He added: ‘The unit’s resources will be deployed to match resources with demand.

‘Our dog unit is, and will continue to be, a valued resource that is key to the operational tactics that we have available to deploy.’