West Yorkshire Police one of first forces set to introduce new digital dogs
West Yorkshire Police will be one of the first forces in the country to get new specialist dogs designed to search and sniff out digital devices, the Yorkshire Post can exclusively reveal.
The force is looking at getting the new dogs next year as the nature of crime continues to evolve.
West Yorkshire Police Sergeant Stewart Dunderdale said: "Crime has moved on a lot and hopefully next year we are going to get some dogs which are trained to find all sorts of digital devices.
"The nature of crime has changed and now there is a lot of online crime. People can do an awful lot of things online now and they can also try and conceal evidence by taking sim cards from out of their phones.
"If you think how small sim cards are now they can be extremely hard to find, but one of the good things with a dog is they can search a property a lot quicker and a lot more methodical than officers can and in term of resources you only need one dog instead of a team of 20 officers or so."
Sgt Dunderdale explained how the force will be looking for Labradors for the new role instead of the usual Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel's they use as search dogs.
He said: "We will be looking for a steadier dog than the Springers as they can be a bit frantic.
"We will look for something like a Labrador which is a little steadier and taller and will be able to get higher when searching.
"These dogs are fairly new to the UK and as far as we are aware there are only a couple of forces in the country which are doing the same."
The new dogs will join the other 34 West Yorkshire Police dogs, which are based at Carr Gate in Wakefield.
The force has 17 general purpose dogs used in searches for criminals, missing people and public order offences to name a few.
They also have a team of specialist dogs which search for drugs, explosives and firearms.
The force currently has 22 dog handlers.
All police dogs have to go on a licence course which is refreshed regularly.
They are also trained in four key areas: obedience, tracking, property search and building search.
Sgt Dunderdale said: "We look for dogs with an even temperament that have got a lot of drive and are also sociable.
"We don't want dogs that are too driven because at the end of the day they do live as party of your family.
"Historically we have used German Shepherds, but in the last few years we have really struggled to get quality German Shepherds in the UK, which is why we went to Holland where they breed German Shepherds and Malinois.
The dog team have recently had a number of successes across West Yorkshire.
These include recovering rescuing a suicidal male from a remote location, finding firearms used in a burglary and recovering a large quantity of cocaine from underneath a stolen vehicle.
Sgt Dunderdale said: "Nothing can ever replace the sense of smell a police dog has, it is incredible."