Dog units 'really good tool' to help police tackle violent crime, officers say

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA

East area commander Det Ch Supt Stephen Clayman - Credit: PA

Police officers in east London have hailed the impact of using a dog to help them crack down on violence.

The East Area basic command unit, which covers Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, has had a violence suppression unit (VSU) in place since May 2020.

As the name suggests, the team is aimed at tackling violence across the three boroughs and has "made a really big difference", according to East Area commander Det Ch Supt Stephen Clayman.

But the area's top cop said the unit has worked even more effectively with the support of dog units.

For the last month, a joint operation with a dog unit has seen a handler go out with the VSU in unmarked vehicles on every late shift.

Sgt Tanya Wiseman hoped the initiative would continue and said it had seen good results for the force.

She said: "The mere presence of the dog is changing the outcome of a lot of our jobs.

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"Whereas before we'd end up in a lot of pursuits on foot or roll arounds, where people are resisting arrest, they are dropping dramatically.

"Just the presence of a dog being by us is changing what people are doing.

"We've got a couple of incidents on camera where suspects have been heard to say, 'if you didn't have that dog with you, I would have run'.

"It's a really good tool for us."

A dog that has been working with the East Area violence suppression unit

A dog that has been working with the East Area violence suppression unit - Credit: Met Police

Another officer from the violence suppression unit, Sgt Nick Hancock, explained how a dog had helped the team during an incident in Dagenham.

Officers managed to box in a vehicle on the A1306 New Road but the suspects ran away.

Sgt Hancock said the dog chased after the suspects, who were detained.

"Me and Tanya were chasing down the road and I think we can agree that, without the dog, we would not have been running for much longer."

He said the VSU had made at least 600 arrests last year, while Det Ch Supt Clayman hailed the extra capacity it had provided to the East Area.

The police boss said: "We look at where crime happens and try and put our resource where it is needed."