THE proceeds of crime have been used for the first time to breed specialist drug-sniffing dogs to work with the police in Surrey and Sussex.

The police forces for the two counties have a combined dog unit, which has bred five springer spaniels that will be trained to locate illegal substances.

They have used money from the forces’ Section 27 Drugs Fund, which is gathered during the execution of drug warrants or seizures and distributed to help tackle drug-related crimes.

The puppies, which are now being looked after by dog minders, will begin their training when they are 12 weeks old. It will continue until they go on duty at the age of 18 months.

It costs around £800 a year for an average police dog’s veterinary bills and food, plus the cost of trainers and police staff during the training period.

“Whilst appreciating that the puppies are extremely cute, they will be operational dogs who provide key support to both forces throughout the year, so are an important investment,” said the dog training unit manager, Geoff Wiltshire.

“Police dogs are so valuable. Not only can they smell out drugs during warrant executions and proactive stops, but we use dogs for finding cash, explosives, and vulnerable people.”

As well as teaching the pups to locate drugs, they will be familiarised with houses, officers, and the day-to-day work of police officers. Drug dogs generally work from around 18 months old until they are eight-and-a-half.

“The training revolves around immersing the dogs in environments they could be in when taken out on operational duty,” Geoff added.

The Surrey and Sussex Dog Training School has become world renowned since it was established 70 years ago, and has trained dogs and their handlers from countries as far away as Hong Kong and Bahrain.