Police defend use of ‘powerful’ dogs after bite figures released

Police bosses insisted dogs were a ‘tremendous resource’ in tracking down criminals, but admitted they were ‘powerful’ and capable of causing injury, as figures revealed the number of times they had bitten people.

Police dogs
Police dogs

More than 1,000 people have been injured by police dogs in the past five years, many of them suspects, according to the statistics.

There have been 998 recorded bites in the West Midlands over the past five years, but bosses today said the dogs were vital in the fight against crime.

Inspector Russ Evans from the force’s dog unit said: “Police dogs play a vital role in helping capture dangerous offenders and people routinely tell us that the dogs are a welcome sight on the region’s streets.”

In West Mercia, 28 members of the public or suspects were injured by dogs at the force, with one of those hospitalised, while 11 officers were injured. One was given £1,500 compensation.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “We appreciate that while a police dog is a tremendous resource capable of finding missing people, tracking criminals and helping maintain public order, they are also very powerful animals.

“For this reason, considerable time and resources are spent making sure the dogs are highly trained and their handlers highly skilled.

“All employers must do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent their employees being injured at work.”

Staffordshire Police bosses said the force’s dog support unit officers and animals underwent ‘vigorous’ training and that each was required to pass a test to ensure they were up to standard.

It comes after a Freedom of Information request showed 17 complaints were made against the force for bites, 16 of those from injured suspects and one from a member of the public. Of those only two were upheld. Inspector Chris Dawson of Staffordshire Police said that the number was a reduction of almost half since 2008.