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Police dog unit to be cut by more than a quarter

Police dog numbers covering Berkshire and Hampshire will be cut by more than a quarter, it has been announced.

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police’s shared dog unit had been earmarked for a reduction in December.

The unit currently has six sergeants and 53 constables but this will now be slashed to 40 constables and four sergeants across the two counties.

David Hardcastle, AAC Operations for Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, said: “We have been actively reviewing our resources within the joint operations unit for Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary and believe that we have an opportunity to operate more effectively and efficiently without impacting on the service that we provide to keep our communities safe.”

Each officer in the unit has one dog to look after, with some having a second pooch with specialist capabilities, such as explosive search or victim recovery.

The reduction means Thames Valley Police will have two sergeants and 22 police constables in the unit.

Assistant Chief Constable Hardcastle added: “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.

“The Unit played an active part in the security preparations around Windsor ahead of the Royal Wedding last weekend and during the operation.”

No deadline has been set for reaching reduced numbers in the unit but the force said it could be achieved through ‘natural attrition’.

When a dog handler retires, their dog is normally passed to another handler, transferred to another force or retired but, from now on, they will remain out of service and will not be replaced.

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