During the festive period revellers in Harrogate may have spotted drug detection dogs out on the streets of Harrogate.
Drug dogs patrolled the town centre on three occasions in the lead up to Christmas, as part of a scheme funded by Police Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan’s community fund.
K9 Patrol, based in Knaresborough, were granted funding last year and have several trained drug detection dogs and handlers .
I went out on patrol with Lee Chandler, Sean Percival-Scott and Eric the two-year-old cocker spaniel to see how people reacted to the drug detection dog.
The streets were bustling with people enjoying a festive night out, and on the whole the majority of people were patient and did not oppose the Eric having a sniff around.
Town centre police officers, PC Kelvin Troughton and PC Amanda Hanusch-Moore were out on patrol with the K9 patrol team.
PC Hanusch-Moore said: “You notice how people react to the dogs and our presence in the town centre.
“You often see groups dispersing, or people walking quickly away from us. It is a deterrent as much as anything as people know we are out in Harrogate.”
Dog handler Sean added: “If people have had an uncomfortable experience.
“It will make them think twice about bringing any drugs out in future.”
If the dog smells drugs he sits in front of the person to indicate which is reasonable grounds for police to carry out a stop and search.
Sean added: “People think they can hide the smell with coffee or something strong smelling, but the dog is sniffing for a scent out of context so would pick up on that.
“They can even sniff out legal highs because of the chemical make-up.”
PC Troughton said that Harrogate police had noticed an increase in the use of legal highs in recent months.
He said: “It is a trend, they come and go, a few years ago it was Ketamine, now it is these legal highs.”
Three patrols were carried out in the lead up to Christmas.
Although no arrests were made numerous stop and searches were conducted and discarded wraps/bags containing trace elements of drugs were found.
K9 Patrol operations director, Lee Chandler said: “The purpose of the patrols is to send the message that drug use on a night out in the town is not wanted. Any prevention no matter how big or small is a positive outcome of the operation.
“The feedback we receive from the public on their nights out is really positive, and the sight of such a team is very much welcomed by the majority.”