Hands up... you're on canine camera

Hands up... you're on canine camera

Police suspect that there's a gunman in the building. Maybe waiting to open fire if they move in. There's just one thing to do. Send for Fido.

That's not the name of an intelligent, brave and well trained dog - it's the groundbreaking miniature TV system that the animal carries on its head.

So instead of risking their lives, police can send in dogs and view the whole scene on images transmitted from the lightweight video camera to the dog-handler's handheld monitor.

An audio link also means the handler can hear any activity near the animal. The cameras even work in the dark, thanks to infrared lights built into the headset.

Northumbria Police currently have four specially selected and trained firearms dogs - all German shepherds - which can carry out advanced searches, working alongside each other without being distracted.

The dogs can be controlled via voice command or hand gestures. They are also trained to leave a mobile phone at the front door of premises which are under siege to enable officers to negotiate with a suspect.

The camera system has been developed and produced by Sheffield-based AME Designs and can help the Crown Prosecution Service convict gunmen by providing recorded evidence that can be used in court.

PC Jim Soutar, who is responsible for the Northumbria force's firearms dogs, said: "We're looking for dogs with above-average drive which are able to operate under stressful conditions.

"The dogs work alongside firearms officers searching for armed suspects, and the control of the dogs must be way above what we normally seek. They must have the skills of an excellent general-purpose dog as well as an excellent firearms dog."

Sergeant Glen Bland, of Northumbria's dog section, added: "The previous camera system had a heavy battery pack which meant the dogs got tired quickly.

"Now the dogs can operate as normal and just seem to forget the camera is there."

Don't like it one bit.

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