Police dog sniffs out drugs during night-time blitz
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Our Behind the Badge (Stoke) series gives you an insight into the work we do to keep you safe - and the officers and police staff involved.
First up! Search dog, PD Chase, sniffs out drugs as part of our Safer Nights initiative . . .
Cocaine, cannabis and monkey dust were seized after we bought in a police sniffer dog to patrol the streets of Stoke-on-Trent.
PD Chase, a passive search dog trained to operate in the night-time economy, worked as part of a wider neighbourhood policing team during our latest Operation Safer Nights deployment.
The three-year-old cocker spaniel sits next to people when he detects drugs. It was this indication that led us to stop-and-search 12 people under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act in Hanley and Burslem. Four people were dealt with for drug offences.
People who tried to avoid the dog were stopped and spoken to by officers. We also visited a number of premises, taking swabs of surfaces to detect drugs; the type, quantity and strength.
Suspects were dealt with in various ways, including arrest, conditional police caution and community resolution.
Sergeant Chris Gifford, from Stoke North local policing team, said: “We and our partners are committed to making the streets safer and making sure there is a robust approach to the prevention of drug and alcohol-related violence and the protection of the public, venue staff and emergency workers.
“This is the first time we have used a passive drugs dog. Along with the positive results we had, it also sends out a clear message that people bringing drugs into the area will not be tolerated.
“Whilst Chase can detect drugs directly, it is often the case that people see the dog and begin to act in a suspicious way, giving us a reason to stop-and-search. Either way, he was a great asset and a valuable part of the team.
“Officers involved in the operation, including Special Constables, were on the whole welcomed by our night-time economy staff and the public. Chase was understandably a bigger hit than us though!”
The patrol also visited St John Ambulance volunteers at a designated Safe Space on Gitana Street, Hanley, where anyone can receive support or medical treatment for incidents such as drink spiking and alcohol or drug-related violence.
Operation Safer Nights was launched in 2021.
The initiative sees our officers working with partner agencies, including St John Ambulance, the Saltbox charity and Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s CCTV and Marshall teams, to tackle violence and protect the public, whilst alleviating pressure on our emergency services.
Jonathan Hore, St John Ambulance treatment centre manager, said: “This facility helps us to reduce pressures on NHS services and the police by providing a safe space to assess and treat injuries, lessening the need for trips to busy A&E departments.
“Our main aim is to get people home safely. We'd encourage anyone on a night out, or indeed anyone who feels they need help, medical or otherwise, to visit us.”
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams, is chair of the Violence Reduction Alliance.
He said: “This operation will not only increase people’s safety when enjoying nights out but also ensure they feel safer too, which is a key priority for me as commissioner.
“My office has successfully bid for over £6 million from government funding streams as part of Staffordshire’s preventative approach to reducing anti-social behaviour (ASB) and violence more broadly.
“Over £4 million from the Safer Streets and Safety of Women at Night funds has been invested in a range of partnership interventions, such as additional lighting and CCTV, the dedicated Safe Spaces and awareness campaigns designed to help reduce ASB and improve the safety of women and girls.”