Sniffer Dogs. To act or not to act? Think, if my area of responsibility is shut down due to a suspicious package or incident, what will the knock on effects be? Trading floors closed? Retail outlets closed? Sporting Events cancelled? Core business suspended?
Are Sniffer dogs at the front of your mind and what drives the blue light response will be the safety of your staff and any public who may use your facilities, but what will the financial cost be? For a shopping centre, retailers could lose thousands in lost revenue and trading floor closure could be far more damaging financially. Then, after possibly several hours, the blue light response teams declare the incident a false alarm, albeit reported with good intent. Ouch!
Islamic state, by whatever name, is “reaching out” over increasing geographical territory and it’s not to have a chin wag and a cup of tea! Budget cuts to law enforcement, reduction in services, a Border Force under pressure and an almost daily increase in the number of “refugees” entering Europe is placing pressure on our ability to protect what we value. The latest report from Europol “Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks” dated 18thJanuary 2016, together with regular pieces from papers such as The Telegraph are not to be ignored.
This is a problem that effects our whole society, not just within the commercial world or infrastructure, but what do we do about it?
There are as many ways of looking at remedies as there are threats, so some thought must be applied. The cost of implementing measures v the results of those measures would be a good start.
One tool in the armoury of protective measures is the ability to have a suspect object, whether accidentally discarded by the public, staff or delivered by courier, quickly checked by Sniffer Dogs or as we prefer to call them Explosives Detection Dogs, (EDD). Users of this service take the view that the financial outlay is far outweighed by the ability to confirm if the reported threat needs to be escalated or not. If the threat has substance, (an indication from the Sniffer Dog), then action plans are put into motion. If not, then normality can resume with the minimum of disruption whilst having ensured that staff and public are protected fully within their corporate responsibilities. Look at it as an insurance policy, with a win win result.
Sniffer dog teams are used for mail & cargo screening, vehicle search, aircraft search, area search, Football and other sporting stadiums, goods in screening and under specifically controlled circumstances, the screening of people & hand held belongings. Dependant on client requirements, they can be deployed in an overt posture, (highly visible to reassure staff & the public that the client takes their safety & wellbeing seriously and to be seen during any hostile reconnaissance resulting in the deflection of any attack) or covertly.
Either way, if you have an Sniffer dog team deployed, you can rest assured that you have done your best and cannot be found wanting.
So, what is an EDD team? Most people think of “bomb” dogs as cute spaniels, (fluffies as the Marines call them) or Labradors which, to some extent is true due to UK public perception of search dogs. Explosive Detection Dogs undergo many hours of training with the handler resulting in the canine being able to indicate to the handler a variety of explosive scent “pictures”.
Dogs should be able to indicate on amounts of substance as small as 1 gram or less to large amounts of 15 kilos or more. However, a fully trained sniffer dog can only indicate if a scent is detectable to the dog. Training is to ACPO, (now known as NPCC) & DAC, (Defence Animal Centre) standards via BS 7517-2: 2010 Code of practice for the use of detection dogs. BS 7517-2 is available for any client or potential client to read and allows potential users to understand the minimum requirements of an EDD team & ask the right questions when sourcing an EDD service. It also provides an end user the ability to comply with their audit requirements & due diligence needs. Competent EDD service providers will be ISO inspected by one of the following, BSI, NSI, SSAIB, CCSA & ISOQAR. Continuation Training must be completed by a certified trainer at least monthly and recorded. An annual certification test must be completed and recorded.
A competent Sniffer Dog service provider will provide training, continuation training and annual certification records together with insurance details and should be pleased to allow any potential client, or existing client to visit the kennels to complete due diligence checks. Some providers, via the local Police Force, will also arrange for a long term client to have their own dedicated training aid store. A few providers will have handlers certified with two dogs allowing more search, or harness time per handler thus reducing cost. It also provides comfort to the client in that if one dog becomes non-operational for any reason, the service can still be provided, albeit with one animal.
EDD teams are vastly more cost effective & versatile than in house portable detection machines, although X-ray and imaging machines play an important role in the ring of protection they cannot be moved to the suspect object. An EDD team, during a shift, can visit a number of locations within a campus resulting in multiple search venues & value for money.
Now the question! To act or not to act? To use Sniffer Dogs or not to use sniffer dogs? That is down to you and your employer but be assured that a competent EDD team is a valuable, flexible & cost effective addition to your protection package.