Dog Section provides the Police Service of Northern Ireland with specialist search capabilities, the ability to track people and look for evidence of criminality. 

Dog Section provides the Police Service of Northern Ireland with specialist search capabilities, the ability to track people and look for evidence of criminality. Our dogs can locate missing people, criminals, drugs, firearms and even money.

The Dog Section provides a 24 hour response in keeping our communities safe throughout Northern Ireland and consists of two Sergeants and thirty Constables, all of whom handle and patrol with at least one police dog.

Our Police Dog recruits begin their working life in the PSNI when they are approximately 18 months old and usually continue until the age of 8. They are carefully selected based on their natural abilities and these traits are then developed and enhanced by continuous training and formal assessment, ensuring that they are safe and efficient in any operational environment.

In a typical week Dog Section search teams will look for 3 missing persons, conduct 19 searches for drugs, firearms, cash and explosive substances.  Our General Purpose dogs will respond to 29 calls for assistance ranging from the recovery of stolen property, from burglaries,  tracking offenders  and the containment of serious crime scenes.

It is common knowledge that dogs can follow a scent trail or identify a specific scent which is undetectable to humans. Even with the development of technology the police dog remains one the most valuable assets in modern day policing and carries out a range of duties that couldn’t be fulfilled in any other way.

The PSNI use a variety of proven dog breeds for general patrol duties, those being, German Shepherd, Belgium Shepherd (Malinois) and Dutch Herder dogs.

General Purpose Police Dogs are multi-disciplined canines who are trained to work under a variety of conditions. Their depth of skills includes; searching for missing persons, tracking suspects from crime scenes and recovery of recently discarded articles of an evidential nature.  They also protect their handler and other officers in dangerous situations and even the mere presence of these police dogs can also be enough to discourage bad behaviour. 

 General Purpose Police Dog

Specialist Search Dogs - we use Labradors, Springer and Cocker Spaniels as specialist search dogs who are trained to find specific scents. Their searching ability is economical and effective covering larger and inaccessible areas quicker than their human colleagues possibly could.

These police dogs are capable of searching and locating illegal drugs, firearms, cash (banknotes) and are also used for the detection of various types of explosive substances.

Some of the other specialist skills of the search dogs include: 

Passive Scanning Drugs Dogs. Police Dog Harley and Jazz have supported a number of policing operations throughout Northern Ireland including the Tennents Vital event. The dogs are trained to scent the air surrounding an individual person in a non-discriminatory manner and can detect illegal substances such as, cannabis and amphetamines.

Passive Scanning Drugs Dogs

Victim Recovery Dogs. Victim recovery or crime scene dogs are trained to search for and detect human remains. They can be used to detect victims of drowning, whether they are a victim of crime, accidental or other. They are also trained to search crime scenes for particles of blood or articles with blood on them.

The welfare of our dogs is of paramount importance, with regular checks by the veterinary surgeon to ensure they maintain good health and fitness. Police dogs have a unique relationship with their handlers. They live with these officers to ensure they remain bonded and when their working life comes to an end, many will remain with their handler as a pet.

All of these operational functions contribute to delivering a high quality service and delivering on our commitments to Keeping People Safe.

In one week officers within Dog section will assist in:

  • 3 searches for missing persons
  • Specialist search dogs will conduct 19 searches for drugs/firearms/cash or explosive substances. (Consists of 9 searches for drugs/cash/firearms and 10 for explosive detection work)
  • General Purpose dogs will respond to 29 calls for assistance whereby the specialist skills of the dog and handler are utilised. (Would include the recovery of stolen property - e.g. from burglaries, searching for offenders made off from a crime scene or containment for firearms incidents - only 1 per week based on stats)

General Purpose Police Dog

General Purpose Police Dog

Search Dog

Search Dog

Victim Recovery Dog

Victim Recovery Dog