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Police should increase number of dog units operating across the country

I fully support Scotland's new single police force and understand the financial constraints placed upon it but would urge senior officers to consider the valuable work of police dogs and their handlers ("Dogs face redundancy in police service shake-up", The Herald, December 27).

I was a dog handler with Strathclyde Police for approximately 20 years, until 1998, in a specialist role as explosive search handler and general purpose handler with the search support group.

During my service the strength of the dog section was about 100 dogs. General purpose police dog cover was split into three shifts covering Strathclyde with about 12 dogs per shift on a good day.

However, due to training for licensing, which is a requirement for the dogs to operate, specialist duties such as royal visits, drug dog searches, annual leave or sickness, you would be lucky to find five dogs per shift.

With a missing person search or a murder the strength would be reduced almost to nothing. It would not be unusual for a dog from the Glasgow area being tasked to Oban or Campletown for a search, with return travelling time of about seven hours.

I am informed the total strength for the new Scottish force will be 135 dogs. That would make the actual strength fewer than 40 general purpose and specialist dogs to cover all of Scotland for a 24-hour period.

With the vast distances these handlers and dogs will have to travel and the more specialists roles undertaken, I believe there is an argument not to decrease the strength but to increase it.

Ian Palmer,

92 Hillend Crescent,

Clarkston.

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