Monday, March 21, 2011

Police chief calls for changes to the way ‘devil dogs’ cases are dealt with

By Mark Cowan, Birmingham Mail

WEST Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims has called for changes to the way ‘devil dogs’ cases are dealt with to save the drain on taxpayers’ money.
The force had seized so many dangerous dogs that the cost of looking after them was almost twice what had been planned for.
Mr Sims said “procedural wrinkles” were costing the force an “unreasonable amount” of money.
The increased number of dogs – deemed dangerous by breed or by nature – being seized puts pressure on already tight police budgets as the force is expected to meet the cost of kennelling the animals while their legal status is checked.
West Midlands Police had set aside £150,000 to pay for the care of seized dogs in the nine months to the end of January.
But in that time, it had spent £281,000, almost 90 per cent more than it had planned. The cost of dealing with dogs is now deemed one of the top six “risk sensitive” funding issues across the force.
Officers are liaising with prosecutors and the courts to ensure dangerous dog cases are dealt with as “expeditiously” as possible to protect the public purse.
Mr Sims said it was one of those “secondary” areas of service that could be looked at as the forced faced up to swinging Government budget cuts.
“It is a good example where it is a secondary requirement on us but because of wrinkles in the system it costs police an unreasonable amount with the storage of dogs and the practical procedures that follow seizure,” he said.
“We will be very challenging with partners because we can’t afford to divert valuable resources into these kind of procedural wrinkles. We have got to get things like that sorted out so we still fulfil the lawful needs but are not abusing taxpayers’ money.”
Police have removed 300 dangerous animals in the region over the last 12 months.
The Birmingham Mail first revealed the growing problem in November 2009, with suspected pit bulls increasingly being seized from gang members and young street thugs using them as a “status symbol” to menace communities and intimidate their rivals.

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