Sniffing out a job as crime fighters in Lancashire

Sniffer dogs Vin and Pirate have proved they have a nose for police work after passing their exams with flying colours.

By Brian Ellis
Saturday, 29th May 2021, 4:55 am

Lancashire Constabulary’s Dog Unit unveiled its newest recruits at a special ceremony at Hutton HQ attended by the man whose generosity made it happen.

Barry Cook bought the male Springer Spaniels in memory of his late wife Lavinia, who adored police dogs.

They have both been trained to sniff out illegal drugs, firearms, ammunition and money - both sterling and euros. And Barry is also presenting the force with a German Shepherd puppy called Thor who starts his training next month.

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Vin and Pirate in action at Hutton Police HQ.

“My wife, Lavinia, and I watched a lot of police programmes together and we’ve always admired the police dogs and their handlers and the work they do.

"Lavinia would be thrilled to know Vin and Pirate have passed their training and will be working on the front line. She would be bursting with pride, as am I.

“Everybody who works at the dog unit does brilliant work and I am so glad these dogs have done well with their training and both will now help keep the people of Lancashire safe.”

Lavinia, from Lower Darwen, had planned to buy a pair of dogs for the police, but she died in October 2019 before she was able to. So Barry bought Vin - named after his wife - and Pirate as a tribute to her and handed them over for training in March last year.

Vin with PC Mark Lockyer, Barry Cook (centre) and Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden.

PC Anna Woods, of the Lancashire Police Dog Unit, said: “We are so grateful to Barry for making this possible. We know his late wife, Lavinia, had planned to buy a pair of dogs for the force before her death, and the generosity of both of them is very much appreciated.”

“PD Vin and PD Pirate are wonderful dogs and we are thrilled they have passed their training. They have worked so hard to get to this point and we know they will be an asset to the force.

“They’ll certainly be getting plenty of treats and belly rubs this weekend.”

Lancashire Police have 18 trained dog handlers who work across the county.

Vin hard at work searching a car.

The dog training unit at Hutton trains around 40 dogs a year for general purpose work, searches and sniffing out explosives, firearms, drugs, money, blood, crime scenes and dead bodies.

The dog team is made up of Belgian and German Shepherd, Malinois, Dutch Herders for general purpose work, with Labradors and Springer Spaniels for specialist searching.

The sense of smell is so acute that a sniffer dog can detect a small drop of blood in a street and can even find blood on a freshly-painted surface.