Plans to amalgamate two dog units into a single command base covering three force areas have raised concerns about deployment issues and officer morale.
Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have proposed to reduce their collective number of general purpose dogs by almost half to 27 and create a joint unit at RAF Alconbury.
He said: â€œAs a consequence itâ€™s become more important to ensure their specialist skills are used to best effect.
â€œThe new proposal delivers further necessary savings and is one where the dog unit remit will concentrate on those core functions where a dog capability is required, to ensure that our highly trained handlers and their dogs focus on fighting crime and protecting the public.â€
However Jim Mallen, Chairman of Bedfordshire Police Federation, questioned the effectiveness of the unit in covering three force areas.
He told PoliceOracle.com: â€œThere will be less dogs spread across a larger geographic area.
â€œIt is not fair on the dog handlers because they will be driving hundreds of miles and it could be by the time they arrive they are not required because of the amount of time it took for them to get there.
â€œIt raises concerns about the effectiveness of having a dog unit other than for pre ordained searches.â€
Speaking about the current collaboration Mr Mallen said: â€œIt has been fairly hit and miss. Officers have been getting demoralised because when they require a dog there is either not one available or they are in another county.â€
The business case has been approved in principle from all three police authorities and will be the subject of a month-long staff consultation.
If implemented, it is estimated to save all three forces more than Â£1.1million.
Hertfordshire Police Federation Joint Branch Board Secretary Vojislav Mihailovic told PoliceOracle.com he was concerned about the effect longer deployment time could have on the dogs, leaving them in an excitable state for longer, thus affecting their performance when they arrive.
He said he has been given reassurances the extra distances travelled by the dogs in the new unit would be kept under â€œconstant reviewâ€.
He said: â€œThey could end up being sent to any job that requires a dog in Herts, Beds and Cambs because the control room will look for the nearest possible resource.
â€œWe are not accepting of it â€“ but accept the reality of the service at the moment.
â€œThere are 20 per cent cuts across the board.
â€œWe have got to make sure the harm is actually minimised.â€