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New sexual crime scene search dogs available as national resource

There are now three dogs in the UK who are trained to detect evidence - sometimes years after it has been left

PDs Rosie and April passed their training last week and can now be deployed for sexual offence investigations in scenes where traditional methods wouldn’t work. 

Rosie and April join PD Sybil as the three dogs in the UK who can pinpoint tiny amounts of seminal fluid without being distracted by other scents. They can detect as little as 0.016ml, sometimes years after it has been deposited. 

The team is part of a forensic search dog project pioneered by Derbyshire which began in 2016. 

Labradors Rosie and April are both 15 months old and have spent six weeks on the training programme which has been developed by Derbyshire’s Dog Section and Crime Scene Investigators. 

Sybil has been working in this area since 2016 along with now retired PD Billie. 

Sybil and Rosie are based in Derbyshire and April in North Wales/Cheshire Alliance. Forces across the country can request to use the dogs, and there is no specified time window for them to attend a crime scheme - however contact should be made at the earliest opportunity. 

PC Dean Allen, who led the training, said: “In the last six weeks they’ve learnt to identify and search for that scent in numerous scenarios that we’ve set up for them: indoors, outdoors, in vehicles, on grass, tarmac and materials such as bedding and clothing.

“The result is we can catch sexual offenders that we may not have been able to otherwise due to the very difficult nature of some sexual offence scenes.

“The dogs can indicate the presence of seminal fluid in places traditional kits can’t detect it, and once they’ve identified the scent – that piece of material or vegetation can be sent away and the extracted DNA profiled, leading to more prosecutions and offenders behind bars."

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