Send In The Dogs Premiere

Tuesday, 21 July 2009, 8:00PM – 9:00PM

ITV1 is back on the front line of British policing with a brand new series of ‘Send In The Dogs’. With exclusive access to the handlers working with some of Britain’s thousands of police dogs, this 8-part series explores the everyday challenges they face – including explosives, armed criminals and violent crowds.

The programme follows officers and their dogs on drug raids, car chases and night time hunts for criminals. Filming with the Metropolitan Police and the Greater Manchester Police dog units, ‘Send In The Dogs’ follows the UK’s top canine detectives.

Police dogs are increasingly being used in Britain’s war against crime. The dogs are considered officers in their own right, tackling dangerous and volatile situations and venturing into hazardous areas, where humans fear to tread. They are trained to sniff out everything from explosives and weapons, to drugs and cash.

The dogs assist the police in finding evidence, giving much needed support at football matches, sniffing out drugs, assisting on armed raids and helping to retrieve escaped prisoners. But despite the close relationships they form, handlers are realistic about their dogs.

“You know you are going into danger, people are carrying knives and firearms and even just grabbing whatever they can get their hands on. You have to remember she is a tool of the trade. If it comes to an officer or a dog in a dangerous situation, it has to be the dog.” PC Mandy Chapman.

There are more than 2500 police dogs working in the UK and’ Send In The Dogs’ features dogs and their handlers from London’s Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police. The programme illustrates how trust and a close relationship between the dogs and their handlers are incredibly important to all operations.

“The dog works it out, you have to trust the dog. Let the animal work it out.” PC Mandy Chapman

The Metropolitan Police have the largest specialist canine unit in Britain of over 250 dogs with varying abilities. And they detain around 5000 drug dealers every year. The majority of these arrests are the result of surprise raids on homes and premises suspected of being used for dealing. As a dog’s nose can be up to 10 times more powerful then a human’s, the dogs form an essential part of any drugs investigation. As well as raids on premises, the programme also features a crackdown on the London Underground and the dog squad are at the forefront of the campaign. Commuters are detained and searched if the dogs smell any trace of drugs.

“We have two dogs and two dog handlers so we can keep the operation flowing because it is quite intense for the dogs. If you imagine a train station is a dry warm place, constantly sniffing and they can get nasal fatigue.” PC Adele Gibson

London’s dog squad works the entire capital, including the River Thames. The two hundred miles of waterways are used by more than 10,000 boats a day. A specialist marine police unit need dogs to search the vessels they stop or board.

The unit has only 20 dogs attached to it and getting in is extremely difficult. It is considered an elite job and not every dog is up to it. The programme follows PC John Lane and his springer spaniel Paddy, who go through rigorous testing. They must convince the marine unit that they are good enough just to get accepted on to the training programme.

In Manchester, PC John Rogers and his German shepherd, Leo, are called out to help a woman who says a man is threatening her. Leo is one of 55 highly trained canines that make up Greater Manchester police’s dog unit. They are based in Chorlton, south of the city and are a valuable tool in the city’s war against drugs and guns. This training unit is one of the best in the world.

By the time PC Rogers and Leo arrive at the scene, the woman is unharmed but the man has barricaded himself inside a house. The suspect threatens to hurt Leo in an attempt to get the police to back off.

“I’ve got a shooter and everything. A sawn off shotgun. Trust me I have. I’ll shoot you. The dog’s a dead man walking.” – Suspect in Manchester

PC Rogers explains how important the relationship is between handlers and their dogs.

“You have to have a bond with the dog. If you don’t have a bond with the dog, the dog won’t work for you. So it is very much a relationship type thing. I spend more time with him than I do with the wife.” PC John Rogers

As Britain’s second largest city, Manchester has always been a prime target for terrorists since the IRA blew up the city centre 13 years ago. Every time a MP visits the city, the police send in the bomb dogs. The programme follows the unit as they prepare for the arrival of Jacqui Smith, the former Home Secretary.

“If you’re on a threat search, you don’t want a find. You really don’t. Whereas with the other dogs, all you want to do is find – all the time. But you don’t really want an indication off your explosives dog because it’s time to get out then.” PC Rob Carlin

At nightfall, different challenges arise for the UK’s police dogs. Many car criminals use the darkness to steal vehicles and to try to outrun the police. So when this happens, the Met send in the dogs to join the pursuits. When offenders run, they cannot help but leave behind an invisible trail. With every step, the ground below is disturbed. Even the slightest movement leaves a scent and a clear track that the dogs can follow. With the speed of the dogs and their ability to follow the scent, the thieves stand far less of a chance of getting away.

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