Cheshire Police Introduced Semen Sniffing Dogs to Investigate Sexual Offences

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Cheshire Police Introduced Semen Sniffing Dogs to Investigate Sexual Offences
Cheshire Police Introduced Semen Sniffing Dogs to Investigate Sexual Offences

Cheshire and North Wales Police Dog Unit has welcomed a police dog who can detect seminal fluid and can help in sexual offence cases

A Golden Labrador named April qualified as a sexual crime scene Police Dog following six weeks of training from specialist officer PC Steve Gunn. She is now one of just three dogs in the UK specially trained to only detect seminal fluid.

The training is part of a highly successful forensic search dog project, pioneered by Derbyshire Constabulary and developed by its dog section and Crime Scene Investigators (CSI).

Her training was part of a successful forensic search dog project originally pioneered by Derbyshire Police. It was hoped that the use of the specialist dog would help put more sexual offenders behind bars.

The police used April to investigate an allegation that a 10-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted as part of an astonishing new tactic. April did identify the presence of semen in a child’s bedroom.

Her nose is so sharp that she can detect as little as 0.016ml of semen, sometimes years after it has been deposited. April can now pinpoint tiny amounts of seminal fluid without being distracted by other scents.

Within 36 hours of returning from their training, PC Gunn and PD April were put to the test operationally after being requested to assist CSI with the examination of a scene in Cheshire.

The Chief Inspector Simon Newell, Head of Alliance Policing responsible for Armed Policing and Police Dogs for Cheshire and North Wales, said: “This is an early example of how this pairing of PD April and PC Steve Gunn will be a huge asset to the Alliance, helping both Cheshire and North Wales to prosecute sexual predators and safeguard victims.”

According to Newell, the project shows how the skills of the sniffing dogs and their handlers play an important role during sexual offence investigations, in scenes where traditional methods wouldn’t work. The introduction of this specialist search dog capability within the Alliance provides exciting opportunities to demonstrate how we can contribute towards tackling Force priorities.

PC Dean Allen, Derbyshire’s lead trainer, said, “It’s fantastic to welcome April to the team. Their training as seminal fluid dogs has been extremely thorough to test and prove their ability so they can best assist CSI.”

He added that, “In the last six weeks they’ve learnt to identify and search for that scent in numerous scenarios that the cops set up for them: indoors, outdoors, in vehicles, on grass, tarmac, and materials such as bedding and clothing. The result is, the cops can catch sexual offenders that they may not have been able to otherwise due to the very difficult nature of some sexual offence scenes.”

Allen explained that the dogs can indicate the presence of seminal fluid in places traditional kits cannot detect it, and once they have 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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