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13 May 2024, 2:27pm
Media Release

AFP’s technology detection dogs increasingly sniffing out crime in 2024

Editor’s note: Images and vision available via Hightail.

The AFP’s world-class technology detection dogs (TDDs) continue to demonstrate their skill and dedication to keeping Australians safe, discovering more than 180 items in search warrants across the country so far this year.

The talented dogs have attended more than 70 search warrants in 2024, sniffing out mobile phones, sim cards, USBs, laptops, and digital cameras, which were often hidden in obscure places.

The AFP’s National Canine Operations (NCO) pioneered the TDD capability within Australia, with the canines helping investigators across multiple crime types to locate items that may have otherwise been missed by humans during a traditional hand search.

Only the best detection dogs are capable of joining the technology detection cohort with 13 TDDs currently deployed across Australia.

The AFP today highlighted the important work of TDDs and the agency's world-leading high risk explosive detection dog (HREDD) capability to Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus KC. The Attorney-General was joined by AFP Assistant Commissioner Specialist Protective Command Alison Wegg.

The visiting delegation watched a demonstration of the TDDs meticulously searching for hidden devices in a building.

They also observed how AFP handlers controlled HREDDs off-lead using hand directions, silent whistles and lasers to deploy the dogs at a distance in multiple environments. This capability is a first for Australian law enforcement.

During a training demonstration a HREDD successfully discovered a mock explosive hidden in a room after being directed to search the area by a handler using a laser. Another HREDD also successfully located a device placed in a car.

The AFP has the largest law enforcement explosive detection dog (EDD) capability in the southern hemisphere, as well as canines that can detect firearms, cash, drugs or technology devices. The AFP has 91 operational detection dogs across Australia.

Assistant Commissioner Alison Wegg said canines were an invaluable capability, and some of the AFP's successes in disrupting crime would not have been possible without them.

“The AFP’s canines are on the frontline with AFP members and have been instrumental in identifying evidence that has led to the conviction of a number of offenders,” Assistant Commissioner Wegg.

“Dogs conducting detection work sniff between five to 10 times a second. Their smell processing capacity is 40 times stronger than humans, and studies have shown they can find a scent as faint as one part per million.

“It is very important for us to continue to research and develop new concepts in canine capability to ensure we remain a step ahead of criminals.”

The AFP NCO trains canines in explosives, technology and currency, firearms and drugs.

Labradors are predominantly used for detection work but other breeds are also part of the team for different canine disciplines.

Each puppy starts training from 10 weeks of age through. On average, the dogs will have a working life of around 6 years.

Once the dogs reach this age they are considered for retirement. Retired dogs are adopted out, generally to the current handler where they go to live a relaxing retirement lifestyle.


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