West Mercia Police dogs become first in region trained to detect bodies underwater - The Malvern Observer

West Mercia Police dogs become first in region trained to detect bodies underwater

Malvern Editorial 26th Feb, 2024   0

TWO West Mercia dog handlers and their four legged friends have become the first in the Midlands to complete accreditation equipping them to detect bodies underwater.

Victim Recovery Dogs (VPD) Lupo and Jabba, along with their owners, PC James Benjamin (Benji) and Nick Davies, are now specially trained to search for people who might have drowned.

They are among a very small number of specially skilled officers and dogs in the country to have completed such intense training.

“Receiving this training adds a completely new dimension to the work we do,” said Nick, owner of dog Jabba and a police handler with 12 years experience.

“It’s another tool that we can utilise to give families the closure they need if a loved one is missing.”

The two week training involves teaching the dog to sit beside an officer in a boat while using their skills to track scents.

Once Lupo and Jabba – who are both Springer Spaniels – identify a scent, their behaviour will noticeably change, so that the officer knows where to direct a diver.

“The dogs are trained to search for bodies on land but this additional skill means they can also locate smells lying on water,” added Nick.

Victim Recovery Dogs can also locate blood and body parts.

Having received the accreditation, Nick and Benji, along with Jabba and Lupo, could be called to support Forces across the country with incidents involving a missing person.

Benji, the owner of Police Dog Lupo said he ‘loves to watch the dogs at work’ and admits he has landed his ‘dream job’.

The police officer, who has been a dog handler for nearly six years said: “When somebody goes missing it’s incredibly upsetting for all those who knew them.

“Finding that person can help provide closure for loved ones and give families the answers they are looking for.”

Police Dog Instructor Steve Morell said the dogs have mastered an ‘incredibly hard skill’.

“Being able to detect a scent on land is one thing, but doing it on water takes things to a whole new level,” said Steve.

Steve explained that there are ‘so many impacting factors to consider, including the temperature, speed and type of water being searched.

“The dogs constantly amaze me,” he said. “Gaining this accreditation is not only a credit to the dogs, but the handlers too. They are all real assets to the Force.”

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