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Dogs set to fall victim to Croydon Council cuts

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HEROIC dogs which guarded the town centre during the riots may, along with their handlers, become the latest victim of council cuts.

Croydon Council wants to axe ten dog handlers, two kennel hands and a trainer as it looks to save cash.

Among the staff threatened with the chop are Paul Dance and Steve Salmon, praised by police for defending House of Fraser in Centrale during the August 2011 disorder.

A source, who asked not to be named because staff face disciplinary procedures if they talk to the press, is convinced some of the 16 dogs at the Kings Wood Kennels, in Sanderstead, will have to be put down - a claim denied by the council.

The source said: "There are some dogs up there that, unless they can be used in the industry or in the type of way they are used to, then they may have to be put down.

"They are ex-police dogs, trained to work. You couldn't take them home, they wouldn't survive. They're not the sort of dogs you take for a walk."

The council wants to scrap its 12-strong mobile enforcement unit – as well as two supervisors – and sell the Kings Wood Kennels complex to save £200,000 a year.

The team works directly with police to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, tackling issues such as fly-tipping, travellers' sites and patrolling parks.

It also operates an out-of-hours service to respond when school alarms are tripped and are the first council staff on the scene during major incidents.

Under the new system their responsibilities would pass to area enforcement squads, smaller teams covering certain sections of the borough.

The current service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, but if the cuts are approved, then their duties will no longer be covered after 8pm.

The Advertiser's source said staff had been left "demoralised".

He said: "I think it's a service that needs to be thought about very seriously before you get rid of it.

"I don't think the council have really considered how important it is and how many responsibilities it has."

Simon Hoar, cabinet member for crime and public protection, denied the dogs would be put down.

Speaking about the handlers, he added: "It's not the case that they aren't appreciated. As can be seen by what happened during the riots, they do a good job.

"What the dog handlers do is valid, but if you look at it, most of their responsibilities are covered by the area enforcement officers. The only thing they do that the area enforcement officers don't is the school call-outs, but the schools pay for that so they can employ whoever they want.

"We're hoping to use some of the money we will save to hire some more of those, but I can't say how many as we're in a consultation process."

The plans are subject to a 90 day consultation which began on March 8.

Dogs set to fall victim to Croydon Council cuts


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