First UK sniffer dogs trained to target paedophiles, terrorists and fraudsters

Police dog handlers PC Martin King and PC Jill Curnow with Tweed a 19-month-old springer spaniel and Rob a 20-month-old black Labrador

The first dogs trained to sniff out mobile phones, hard drives and other digital devices have been put into service by United Kingdom police forces.

USB sticks containing the plans of terrorists or the grim and illegal porn stashes of paedophiles are no longer safe, thanks to a couple of detection dogs that have been trained to sniff out the nice plasticky smell of warm electronic devices.

Ch Supt Jim Nye, commander for the alliance operations department that works across the two forces, said: "These dogs will give the police a new way to fight the threat of terrorism, paedophiles and fraudsters".

A spokesman from Devon and Cornwall Police said the pair were "part of a trial" and the force would be looking to roll the scheme out wider.

In 2015, dog instructor PC Graham Attwood began to research whether dogs could be used effectively in this way and worked with his counterparts in CT, who use digital detection dogs.

So-called Digital Storage Detection Police Dogs are widely used in the USA, with both the Connecticut State police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation employing their own device-seeking canines.

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Tweed and Rob are the first two cyber detection dogs in the country and are based with Devon and Cornwall police - although they will travel to lend a helping paw to other forces.

They passed their assessment with flying colours and were set to work.

He said the dogs were bought specifically for the project, and training them was a "unique challenge", but he had already seen "fantastic results". However, on closer inspection it turned out to be a money box which had a number of SD cards hidden inside. In a separate search, Rob was able to track down a device hidden carefully in a draw that would likely have been missed during a visual search.

The duo have already been used in a over 50 warrants across Britain, including Hampshire, Essex, South Wales and North Yorkshire.

If the dogs continue to do well, others may be trained.

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