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Jed top dog at Belfast Police Dog Trials

THE SOUND of barking mingled with cheers and applause at Malone Rugby Club in Belfast last weekend as top dogs from police forces all over the UK went through their paces.

Twenty-seven teams have been taking part in the 46th National Police Dog Trials - the first time the trials had been hosted in Northern Ireland.

After four days of vigorous drills, the title of ‘Top Dog’ went to Jed and his handler Steve Laughton, from Merseyside Police.

Northern Ireland's only finalist team, Jay and his handler Paul Calvert, came sixth after Jay suffering a leg injury on the Wednesday.

Last year the national title went to PSNI constable Ian Eccles and his dog Dee.

The German and Belgian Shepherds and their trainers qualified to take part in the finals through a series of regional heats.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said: "Police dog trials are an important aspect of training and help to maintain the highest professional standards expected in operational police work."

Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Police dogs Working Group, ACC Peter Vaughan, said: "We have the cream of the crop here. These are 27 of the best in the country put under a lot of pressure to achieve in this competition."

The trials are a series of practically based tests, designed to examine how the dogs perform in obedience, tracking, agility, searching and detaining skills. The handlers and their dogs are assessed to a national standard, set by the ACPO.