Puppy Academy: Meet the gorgeous canine crime-fighting recruits training to join Greater Manchester Police

By Helen Le Caplain

These adorable pint-sized puppies love nothing more than to chase each other, hare after a ball and indulge in some seriously mischievous behaviour.

So it’s hard to imagine that as early as next year these four-month-old Springer Spaniels will be the latest recruits patrolling the mean streets of Manchester sniffing out drugs, guns and huge stashes of cash.

But that’s exactly what Chip, Blue, Boo, Lottie and Izzy will be doing once they’ve completed their initial ‘puppy academy’ training.

Fearsome German Shepherds tend to be the first breed to spring to mind when you think of police dogs, however spaniels play an invaluable role in combatting terrorism and anti-social behaviour throughout the UK.

Dog Training Unit team leader at Greater Manchester Police, Martin Almond, explained that the user-friendly nature of spaniels makes their job much easier.

He said: “Spaniels are very approachable dogs and people don’t seem to be afraid of them which makes searching live venues such as railway stations and airports more straightforward.

“They’re bred for the role – it’s not work to them it’s just one big game.”

CUDDLY CRIMEFIGHTERS: They may look cute but have a serious job to do

Chip, Izzy and Lottie will be responsible for sniffing out drugs and will undergo a six-week course teaching them how to detect ten different types of pills and powders.

Whereas Boo and Blue will be responsible for sweeping areas for explosives and will attend an eight-week course learning how to detect live and spent fire arms and ammunition and cash in note form.

Martin explained that the dogs were a vital part of effective policing in Greater Manchester.

He said: “They are invaluable in dispersing crowds and sorting problems of public disorder like they did back in 2008 when Glasgow Rangers played at Old Trafford and again during the Manchester riots in 2011.

“Three or four dogs are worth a hundred bobbies in those high-level crime situations as the presence of a dog puts people off.

“Half the crowd doesn’t want to face the dogs and this minimises the problem and makes things more manageable.”

TINSEL TOWN: Taking time out from training to model some tinsel

But it’s not just pacifying a baying crowd that makes these new police recruits important, it’s also their ability to locate drugs, firearms and people using their own lethal weapon – their super-sensitive snouts.

He added: “I’ve seen the value of these dogs first-hand, I’ve attended incidents when even a helicopter with heat-seeking capabilities has been unable to locate someone.

“However when a dog was sent in the person was found – you won’t be able to hide for very long as you can’t escape a dog’s nose!”

After a long day training to keep the people of Manchester safe these police pooches go home with their handler for some vital rest and relaxation.

Martin explained: “The initial training is intense and involves working from nine to five. They become part of the family but you’ve got to remember they are a working dog not a pet that sits in front of the TV every day.

“We provide handlers with a purpose-built weather-proof kennel for outdoor use because, after a busy day at work, the dog wants some peace and quiet to rest.

“It also means that they don’t associate their home with a working venue such as when they need to search houses.”

HATS OFF TO THEM! Here’s one of the five getting into the festive spirit

So what does it take to become one of GMP’s latest canine recruits?

Police dog trainers aren’t looking for docile animals but ones with character who are willing to take a little walk on the wild side.

Martin explained: ”You essentially want a ‘disobedient obedient’ dog’, one that is willing to stick his or her head in dark places and do the job with no hang ups.

“This bunch are right live wires, they like a bit of mischief!”

Although Chip, Blue, Boo, Lottie and Izzy are only in the very early stages of their training initial reports suggest they are doing really well, and have obviously inherited their abilities from police dog mum Luna.

The black and white spaniel gave birth to her first litter in the early hours of August 1, with Martin by her side, and has proved herself to be an excellent working mum.

Luna was bought from the memorial fund of Hyde dog-lover and GMP design and print unit worker Graham Hazlehurst who tragically died in 2010 from meningitis aged just 38.

I’M ON YOUR NICE LIST, RIGHT? One curious pup hopes for a treat

The pups will be put through their paces by an independent assessor at the end of their training period and if they pass with flying colours will be declared fit to work and become an operational dog.

And if their initial reports are anything to go by, you’ll be seeing this formidable fivesome on the beat sooner rather than later.

For more information about the training process, click the video below.

Pictures and video courtesy of GMP, with thanks

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