Not Worth A Sniff

sniff The BBC and The Guardian have produced items today that implied that sniffer dogs at Manchester airport have not been sufficiently well trained to do their job: the BBC headline is “Airport sniffer dogs find ‘cheese and sausages’ but no Class A drugs”.

In fact, they are actually talking about dogs trained for different scents. Each section has been working but the drugs section has not had a find within six months and the viabity of the while unit has been brought into question.

Lawyers have made attempts in the US to discredit the efficacy of sniffer dogs in order to get convictions overturned. The authorities then tightened up their recording procedures and improved their training. Rewarding a “no find” significantly improves the dogs’ motivation to continue working but few trainers use it.
It may be that the methods of traning need to be improved but it would be interesting to have a comparison with a similar sized airport to see what their detection rates are.

Post Scriptum: Well done to the i newspaper for reorting this in a balanced way that did not imply that drugs dogs were being distracted by meat and cheese.

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