Sniffer dogs on trains to disrupt county lines drugs gangs

I saw British Transport Police in action for the first time on a train last week. It was a fare-dodging issue but they are also there to keep rail passengers safe.

This month they have introduced four specialist drug detection dogs to work within a new County Lines disruption team.

The four dogs and their handlers will be deployed on intelligence-led operations across England, Scotland and Wales and are trained to disrupt County Lines activity throughout the country, which includes those bringing drugs into Cornwall and Devon.

Following a strict recruitment process, experienced handlers were selected and matched to their dogs, before undertaking a rigorous 8-week training course split between the force’s dog school in Keston, London and out on location.

The dogs have been trained to detect people carrying a vast array of different illegal substances within busy railway environments.

They will form part of the force’s newly created Country Lines disruption taskforce, which has been funded by the Home Office in a national pilot to crack down on drug dealers exploiting vulnerable young people.

This will involve working alongside uniformed and plain clothes police, as well as specialist officers who are trained in spotting the tell-tale signs of those with criminal intent.

Drug detection dogs Rocco, Bella, Polly and Dudley became operational last week following a Passing Out Parade with friends and family.

Superintendent Chris Horton said: “We’re incredibly pleased to be expanding our drug detection capabilities across the railway network, and the new dogs are an exciting development for the force.

“With growing intelligence suggesting County Lines drug dealers are increasingly using the rail network to exploit vulnerable young people, drugs dogs are an important step in us denying criminals the ability to do so.

“In the past, we have routinely used drug detection dogs from other police forces to identify and disrupt County Lines activity across the railway, so we have seen the positive results they can and will continue to have.

“All of our dogs and their handlers play an exceptionally important role in keeping the travelling public safe, and I know their hard work will be strengthened even further by our newest arrivals.”

Kit Malthouse, Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire said: “No one should be in any doubt that if you are moving drugs around the UK by road or rail, we will catch you. This new canine capability is a welcome addition to our renewed offensive against the county lines industry that peddles misery and violence across the country. There will be more, much more to come”.

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