My usual watchwords for this blog are (in ascending order of emotion) “disappointment”, “indignation” and “outrage”. But this week it is “awwwww”, because it’s all about a litter of cuddly, snuggly puppies. Last week the Metropolitan Police’s Dog Training Establishment took delivery (groan!) of a litter of seven German Shepherd puppies – the offspring of two working police dogs, so born into the family business. They are being referred to as the “Ratana litter” in tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot and killed at Croydon Custody Centre in September 2020 as he prepared to search a handcuffed suspect. All the puppies bear names that refer to Sergeant Ratana and his New Zealand heritage, and their initial training will include tracking human scent, helping to find suspects, and locating guns and knives. However – and well done for bearing with the story this far – some of them will be trained as cash-sniffer dogs. And – here’s the best bit – their training is being funded by confiscated proceeds of crime.
In the year to April 2021, cash-sniffer dogs helped the Met Police to recover a total of £47.2 million in notes and coins (up 150% from an already impressive £18.4 million in the previous year). A spaniel named Millie sniffed out £80,000 during a house search and then led her handler around the property again and indicated a point of interest in the bathroom – when officers took the loo apart, they found a further £185,000 stashed behind the cistern.
Police believe that criminals are currently even more flush (double groan!) with cash at the moment: businesses that would traditionally handle large amounts of cash were closed during the pandemic, and there were fewer opportunities to travel to move money abroad. Once any identifiable victims have been reimbursed, the residue of any seized cash is distributed to law enforcement agencies across the country. And the Met is spending theirs on more doggy noses.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Wright, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Command, said: “Our investment in training these new puppies as cash seizure dogs will help us to find cash that is hidden in secret compartments, known as hides, in vehicles and homes – making our work quicker and more effective. Cutting off the cash flow that is generated by criminality and ill-gotten gains not only helps to tackle violent crime but it also helps to fund extra policing resources.” Every dog does indeed have its day.