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#dontditchthedogs save our front line policing @mikepannett

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A number of leading frontline police officers and commentators have expressed their fears for public safety after a series of announcements by police forces that they plan to cut police dog unit numbers as part of desperate measures to save money.

The cuts to police budgets, imposed by the Government, have led to senior police officers from forces around the country looking for any means they can to reduce budgets and cut costs wherever possible.

This week, Essex Police have announced they will reduce their canine unit capability by 12 dogs, almost half of their existing number. An announcement is expected shortly from the Avon & Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire forces that they plan to merge services and cut their dog numbers back to just 48 across all three policing areas.

Former Metropolitan and Yorkshire police officer, now author and policing issues spokesman Mike Pannett said “The Government and Police Chiefs consistently repeat that cutbacks are not affecting the frontline. This is simply not true, and none more so than with regard to police dogs”. “The UK Home Office have failed with overview”

“The public will be shocked to hear that many forces have already dramatically reduced their number of police dogs. Greater Manchester Police for instance used to have over 130 handlers, they now have just 36 with a loss of around 130 dogs in less than 7 years. West Yorkshire Police have almost halved their dog numbers recently and West Midlands police have lost another five dog handler jobs this year”

“Cambridgeshire recently reduced their number of dog handlers from 29 to 18 and cut the number of actual dogs by around 25. Like many other forces now, they no longer have any dogs on duty after 4am.”

“The huge counties of Avon and Somerset, Gloucester and Wiltshire plan to share 48 dogs, an impossible arithmetic task to maintain 24 hour cover, seven days a week. The reality means one of two dogs at a time shared between three counties covering thousands of square miles and protecting millions of people”

North Wales Police have lost 25% of dog handlers and operate this huge area with 9 handlers in total. South Yorkshire Police are on the verge of cutting around half its section.

“Police dogs are not a specialist role, they are a fundamental part of modern day frontline policing” added Mr Pannett. It’s taken years to build up “best breeding” which produce the best police dogs in the world! Decimated.

Despite a recent survey, promoted via social media site Twitter suggesting that over 97% of people think there should be more police dogs on the streets not less, police bosses continue to appear convinced that reducing the number so police dogs available is a viable way to cut costs without affecting policing capabilities, leading many to declare that making these announcements now is akin to declaring a Happy Christmas for Criminals.

Following this survey, a campaign on Twitter to highlight the plight of police dogs using the hashtag #DontDitchTheDogs was declared a resounding success after trending as the most popular subject in the UK within minutes and remained so for over an hour, gaining more comment than I’m A Celebrity, and resulting in one Sunday newspaper declaring the efforts an ‘internet sensation’.

“Police dogs track down criminals 24 hours a day. They find vulnerable missing people who would otherwise die of exposure, they recover millions of pounds worth of drugs and search thousands of buildings and venues for explosives” said Mike Pannett

With the cuts made so far, the operational reality is that it officers can be waiting an hour of more for a dog to arrive at the scene of a burglary. Experts will tell you that after this length of time, the scent will have gone and the trail will be cold meaning officer on the ground will have little to no chance of tracing the suspects. This is simply not acceptable”.

“Add to that the health and safety implications to both the dogs, their handlers and the general public if officers are having to race backwards and forwards across counties on blue lights to get from one job to the next. The risk of accidents is being increased many times over”

As a result of police officers concerns, Mike Pannett has laid down a challenge to Senior Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners to debate publicly the proposed cuts to police dog and handler numbers.

“I will debate with anyone who wants to try and rationalise that these cuts to police dogs will not affect public safety and will not negatively affect the detection of crime and apprehension of offenders because they will, and they are.”

“I’m dreadfully worried that the majority of Police and Crime Commissioners, most of whom have no operational policing experience are relying on advice from people who do not themselves understand the implications, and are naively signing off these awful decisions without fully appreciating the consequences of their actions. “

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Awww Cleveland Police have just recruited these four legged friends

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Put your paws up for our two new recruits, Maggie and Skye who are the newest and youngest additions to the Force. At just 12 weeks old, the two English Springer Spaniels will soon begin their training to become Specialist Search Dogs.

Dog Trainer Constable Darren Gobie and Police Constable Chris Lambert are the lucky handlers of the pups. PC Lambert teamed up with a year 4 class at Myton Park School in Ingleby Barwick and allowed them to choose Skye’s name.

Chris and Skye will regularly visit the school over the next 18 months to allow them to follow her training process.

Speaking of the collaboration with the school, PC Lambert said: “I thought it would be a great idea to tie in with a school in the local community.

Recruiting new dogs is a huge deal and it’s an exciting and educational opportunity for the pupils to meet a police dog, choose her name collectively as a team and to better understand the training process for police dogs, and police roles in general.

The children were delighted to participate in this and I am sure they will all build a lovely bond with Skye over the coming months.”

PC Lambert, along with partner agencies will also be using the visits to the school to deliver lessons on internet safety and safety around animals.

The officers and the dogs will need to work very closely as team throughout the training process to build a special bond together.

Training is both mentally and physically challenging for both the dogs and handlers, as every programme must be passed to qualify.

Specialist dogs are used to detect a range of things with their highly developed sense of smell such as money, explosives, drugs and firearms.

They are also trained to work in public places including licenses premises to search for people in possession of narcotics.

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Storm Hector is on the way bringing severe gales

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Another strom is set to hit parts of the UK going by the name of Hector.

People are being warned that severe gales are on the way which will impact those travelling tomorrow.

A yellow warning has been issued as severe gales will hit parts of the UK.

The Met Office say Strom Hector is heading for rhe UK and will bring strong winds during Thursday.

The Met Office have issued a yellow warning meaning ‘be aware’ as winds are set to come between 3am until 3pm which is likely to cause disruption to roads, rail and cause powercuts.

A Met Office spokesman said: “The strongest winds will reach the west coast during the early hours of Thursday before spreading eastwards during the day.

“Westerly winds are likely to gust between 50 and 60mph in many areas and possibly around 70mph in some exposed locations.

“Winds should gradually ease from the west during Thursday afternoon.”There may be a chance of longer journey times or cancellations as road, rail, air and ferry services are affected.”

“People have also been warned that buildings could be damaged and to take care near the coastline due to large waves and material potentially being thrown onto sea fronts.”

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My Story It is time to say goodbye to the RNLI after 15 years

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The Story Of Ben Laws who served 15 years at Whitby RNLI.

After 15 years Ben was one of two dismissed from the RLNI following what is described as a bit if banter with the lads.

He wrote “I’m Sad to say goodbye to the rnli today, it’s been a great 15 years ive met and served with some awesome lads and lasses. And there wives girlfriends family’s fowls etc.

“you’ve all been great and one time we were a great big happy family down there. We’ve had some s**t horrendous jobs,

“some mint jobs saved loads of lives ,dogs ,deers sinking trawlers cut offs plane crashes tow ins wound up boats injured people steamed 40 mile in the fog for a guy with toothe ache,

“recovered too many unfortunate people who didn’t make it, but we always did it with pride respect and dignity. 3 words the rnli could do with looking up in the dictionary.

“Me and joe have been the brunt of a witch hunt and massive cover up our stations regional management have hung us out to dry and just disposed of us without a care in the world.

“our coxwain wouldn’t even speak to us through this horrible time or show us any support or guidance when we were getting hounded by the national press 24/7 which is very hard to swallow after being at sea for 15 years together and supposedly a friend.

“Out of all of this no good has come just a massive wedge driven into the crew and 6 good crew members gone. I hope the rnli do there job properly now and get rid of all the true problems at Whitby rnli now from management down to the snakes on the crew who keep leaking everything to the press.

“Hopefully they will see sence and wake up and see the real problems at Whitby and try and make it better for the good of the public who we are supposed to be keeping safe.

“All the best and stay safe on the boat all you good ones as we all no there are bad ones among you and thanks for everything and all the good times Il miss you all.”

Following the incident a number of crew members have resigned their role within the RNLI

Steve Boocock wrote “Well today it is confirmed, along with Joe, Ben, Martyn, and Neil, my time on Whitby Lifeboat crew has come to an end!

“I have enjoyed the last 18 years of service, worked with some great lads and lasses and served under some legendary coxswains.

“I really wanted to reach my 20 years but sadly recent events and some disgraceful decisions by the RNLI has put that ambition to bed.

“Thanks to all those who i have served with for all those years and also to those who passed their wealth of knowledge on to me, and Although ive seen some horrendous stuff during my time, the vast majority of the time its been a right ord scream.

“Finally, a massive thanks to Mike Russell for being the best coxswain ever and someone we all looked upto. Your boots will never ever be filled.

“Thanks all, and good night!”

The RNLI have released a statement to Police Hour RNLI Statement

“Following a fair and robust investigation and appeal process, we have upheld our decision to stand down two crew members from Whitby RNLI.

“Volunteers are entitled to appeal against our decisions and each case is considered on an individual basis. In this case, no new evidence was presented to us and we stand by our original decision.

“We recognise the years of dedication it takes to become a crew member and do not stand volunteers down lightly. But, like any emergency service, the RNLI sets high standards and expects all its volunteers and staff to set an example, not just in terms of their maritime expertise but also in their behaviour and respect for others.

“One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter.

“The other volunteer produced a hardcore pornographic image of a fellow crew member on a mug. Some newspapers created their own image of a mug, but the actual image produced by the volunteer was so graphic that no newspaper would be able to print it without breaking the law.

“We will continue to challenge any inappropriate behaviours and practices by staff or volunteers, and we do this for the thousands of volunteers who are committed to doing the right thing as they operate our 238 lifeboat stations 24/7.

“The remaining volunteer crew at Whitby are working closely with the RNLI to operate an effective lifesaving operation at Whitby lifeboat station. We would ask the local community to continue to support our volunteers, in what has been a challenging time, as they remain dedicated to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast.”

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