Although Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary had already been sharing a dog unit, in October last year the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables of the three Forces decided on a three-way merger.
This gives all three Forces access to a larger pool of police dogs on each shift, and greater access to specialist police dogs – for example passive drugs dogs, which are typically used in town and city centres to identify people carrying drugs.
The new service will also increase police dog coverage in rural areas.
The combined dog section is part of the Evolve Programme, a three-Force initiative to look at how the police can improve services and save money by collaborating across organisational and geographical borders.
Commenting on today’s launch, Julia Mulligan, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire said:
Police dogs are a really important of policing both urban and rural communities, and fundamentally, this merger gives us access to more dogs and will in turn mean a better service for the public. Not only is the service better, but North Yorkshire saves £172,000 a year by working better with our neighbouring forces, giving local tax payers better value for money.
The savings will come from having a single command structure, from changing working shift patterns, having economies of scale on common training/ tactics, along with savings from salary costs.
The unit is launching with the same 45 officers as before the merger, they expect that the number will reduce slightly over the coming years as people retire.
Dave Jones, Chief Constable for North Yorkshire Police said:
From today our police dogs will be trained in the same way, and will adopt the same operating tactics, across all three police service areas. That means we can deploy more dogs, and work more effectively across a wide geographical area. That is good news for the service and bad news for criminals.