Charity steps in to help with funding for police dog units
Dog units have suffered as part of cuts to police budgets and can struggle to replace injured or retiring dogs and get new equipment.
This is just one reason why charity SDUKI (Sniffer Dogs UK & International) was set up – to help provide funding for dogs, equipment or other extras for forces’ dog units.
In June this year the BBC reported that an FoI request found police dogs had been cut by more than 200 since 2009, but the figures did not include all forces and statistics compiled by the Police Federation found the picture to be much worse. From 2008 to 2013, the numbers of dogs had reduced by more than two thirds, from 1,226 across 43 forces to just 396.
Although the Home Office has said that forces are coping well with cuts, Maggie Gwynne, a professional fundraiser who runs SDUKI, said she felt the need to establish the charity to support the important work of dog units in the face of budget cuts.
“Government cuts to police budgets have meant some of these sections have been massacred – five years ago there were many more dogs. There were no ‘bi-force’ or ‘tri-force’ sections,” she said.
Ms Gwynne added that because the numbers of dogs have reduced in force areas with the ‘sharing’ of dog units, they now have to cover a greater geographical area with fewer dogs and that this had an impact on service to the public.
Rick Nelson, of the Police Federation’s operational policing sub-committee, said: “Cutting the number of dogs and units is inevitably going to have an impact on the service they can provide. Dogs are incredibly flexible and are crucial in a number of situations from public order to drugs and firearms operations. They can often mean an operation is run more efficiently and actually save money, so it makes no sense to cut them back.”
Ms Gwynne set the charity up in March 2011 after finding out about the plight of dog units in South Wales in 2010. It may seem strange that the person who set up the charity is not a dog fan, but she knows how important they are to providing a service to the public: “Yes, I am a little scared of dogs but I feel really strongly about the units as it impacts on public safety and I think people should know about it,” she told Police magazine.
“I do it single-handedly and it’s my passion in life. I am driven to help keep these dog units up to strength.”
The charity raises money for any dog section that asks them for help and provides funding for search and rescue dog organisations. The most recent work of the charity includes providing £1,750 for a dog in Norfolk, another for Dorset in October this year at £2,500 for a dog and countless help to other forces, including providing new equipment.