Either travellers at Manchester Airport are the best behaved to enter UK, or their might be some room for improvement for the sniffer dogs who failed to detect any Class A drugs in the seven months between November 2014 and June 2015.

According to an inspection of Border Force Operations at Manchester Airport, carried out by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigrations, although the dogs were making detections – such as tobacco, illegal meat and cash – they were “not delivering effectively” against ‘Control Strategy’ priorities. Heroin and cocaine are assessed as ‘very high’ priority within both air passengers and freight, but no amount of either was found, let alone seized.

“When deployed, the POAO dog made multiple accurate detections, but most were of small amounts of cheese or sausages, wrongly brought back by returning British holidaymakers and posing minimal risk to UK public health,” the report reads.

Predictably enough, the public was greatly amused by the performance of the Manchester Airport sniffer dogs.

But fear not, there are volunteers ready to help improve security.

To get the dogs back on track, the report recommends the Home Office to “consider whether the deployment of staff and dogs in the customs channels has become predictable and therefore less effective against experienced smugglers”, and “ensure the detector dogs are targeted against the commodities identified as high priority in the ‘Border Force Control Strategy’.”

In an official response, the Home Office has said that Border Force dogs are trained to detect “a range of commodities in line with the priorities in the Border Force Control Strategy, including tobacco, cash, products of animal origin and drugs”, and that they are “deployed against these as and when needed or in response to targets identified by intelligence and/or during joint operations with partners including the National Crime Agency.”

“Deployment decisions are taken through Border Force’s tasking and deployment process and are reviewed periodically according to need and risk. During the period covered by the inspection the Manchester-based dogs were deployed to a range of targets covering all commodities,” the response says, although it recognises that improvements are to be made.


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