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Czech-mate for Norfolk Police

PC Coleman with Thor and PC Hood with Cracker, which are both BSD Malinois, and PC Appleton with Nico, a Czech-bred GSD – dogs which Norfolk police are buying from abroad

NORFOLK CONSTABLULARY has become one of the latest UK police forces to import foreign police dogs to make up for the shortfall in suitable UK-bred dogs.

Police have spent nearly £2,000 a time on purchasing animals from abroad in order to recruit dogs and train them up to the rigorous demands of the job. The force's 17 dogs now include five Malinois from Belgium, and a Czech-bred German Shepherd.

Phil Large, sergeant in charge of Norfolk Constabulary's dog section, said the force had saved £60,000 in buying top quality dogs from overseas.

Sgt Large said: ‘There are plenty of German shepherds about in this country - but it is a case of finding ones which are of sufficient quality for what we need. ‘We decided to look abroad for dogs, which is what a lot of other forces are now doing too.

‘So far the foreign dogs that we have brought in have been brilliant and in the future we will be looking to bring in puppies from abroad.’

The dogs Norfolk police have purchased from abroad range in age from 12-18 months.

Sgt Large said: ‘The foreign dogs have cost the force £13,000 to buy in total, but it has actually saved us £60,000 in the long-term. Because in the past we would send UK dogs off for training courses which can cost £9,000, and they would not pass out, or if they did they would not last too long.

Last week, South Yorkshire Police revealed it was having to teach imported foreign police dogs the English command of ‘sit’, after the dogs only reacted to being given orders in their native tongue.

Sgt Large added: ‘Some of our dogs have been taught in some foreign commands, but to be honest the dogs are quick to learn the new routine. It is more to do with the tone of voice rather than the actual word itself. We did have to give them new names though.’

The foreign dogs are used for general purposes by Norfolk police. Training courses for police dogs last between 10 and 13 weeks.

Norfolk police's dog section began recruiting dogs from overseas about two years ago, it hopes to contact foreign breeders directly in future in order to get puppies - and avoid big costs in a competitive market.

As reported previously, dog handlers in Avon and Somerset police have taken on three dogs from Holland as part of a drive to recruit quality foreign dogs for the force.

The Professor, Amigo and Dutch have left their training routes in Holland and are getting used to life at the mounted and dog section in Bower Ashton, Bristol.

The Professor and Amigo are German Shepherds whilst Dutch is a BSD Malinois – a breed which is widely used for police work in Europe. Malinois are becoming more popular with UK forces and a number are already working as operational dogs.

The dog handlers are brushing up on their language skills to train the dogs to respond to commands when they carry out their duties in the UK.