The force’s twelve horses may not have a sense of smell to rival an elephant. But did you know they have incredible ears and can hear sounds more than two miles away? They also have peripheral vision, which means they can have up to a 360 degree view of the world.
Stable Manager Jonathan Green said: “We hope everyone enjoyed our April Fool’s Day video as much as we enjoyed making it. Although it was fun and we hope we made a few people smile, our main purpose was to promote the vital role of our incredible four-legged officers.
“Although our horses don’t specifically sniff out drugs, they do assist with taking illegal substances off the streets as our Mounted Officers carry out stop and searches. They also keep the public safe at events such as football matches, carnivals and festivals. The massive height advantage of being on a horse means our Mounted Officers can see over crowds when they need to.
“As well as that, our horses carry out high visibility profile patrols; help with searches for wanted criminals and missing people; assist in detaining offenders; and will even use their body weight to keep a violent person pinned against a wall (without hurting them) to protect others.
“But the credit for sniffing out drugs needs to go to our amazing canine colleagues. We can confirm that although a horse’s sense of smell is more acute than that of humans, it is definitely not as good as a dog’s.”
Meet the horses
PH Trinity is an 11-year-old Irish Draught who has been with us for five years. A true gentleman of a horse, he who loves people and all the fuss and attention they give him. His favourite thing is to roll when he is returned to his stable with clean bedding which he enjoys doing every day.
PH Brunel, aged 15, is an Appolloosa who has been with us for four years. He loves to jump as fast as he can. A very versatile horse, he is good at teaching new recruits how to ride and school correctly.
Fifteen-year-old PH Jubilee is a Shire and has been with us for eight years. He met Her Majesty The Queen in 2012 where he was officially named. He doesn't like sheep but thankfully he doesn't meet many in his line of work.
PH Blaise is a ten-year-old Irish Sports Horse who has been with us for a year. He is very vocal and snorts at things he's unsure off. He can be a bit stubborn but is enjoying his new life as a Police Horse.
PH Wessex, aged 11, is an Irish Sports Horse who has been with the force for two years. He's our tallest horse at 18:1hh and our only chestnut. He loves school visits and meeting the children.
PH Clifton is an Appaloosa. He is 20 years old and has been with us for 15 years. Although he is our oldest horse, sometimes he acts like a four-year-old. Despite this, he is very reliable, has patrolled the London 2012 Olympics and kept the public safe during the Stokes Croft riots of 2011.
PH Mendip is a nine-year-old Irish Draught who has been with us for four years. He doesn’t like getting his feet wet; he loves biscuits - in particular ginger nuts; and he has the biggest ears ever (see photo).
Irish Sports Horse PH Somerset is ten years old and has been with the force for three years. He loves sleeping and a good foot chase. However, he isn’t the bravest and doesn't like his own shadow.
PH Quantock is an Irish Draught, is 15 years old, and has been with us for seven years. He's well-known for being very mischievous, for loving his food, and for escaping whenever left unattended. Naughty.
Windsor, a Welsh, is seven years old and has been with us for nearly a year. He loves his food and will do anything for a treat. He's very inquisitive and not afraid of much. He's on-course to make a really good Police Horse and he had the honour of being officially named by Her Majesty The Queen at a Royal visit last week.
Irish Draught Rolo, aged eight, has been with us for a only a few months. He’s our newest horse and loves to dunk his hayledge into his water, but he is not a lover of being too close to an umbrella.
Tri-Force T/Chief Inspector Shane Hawkings, who heads up the Dogs Unit, said: “We have a number of different breeds working as drugs dogs, ranging from Staffordshire Bull Terriers to Labradors, Spaniels and cross breeds. They are all selected on potential and ability.
“Many of our dogs are sourced from rescue centres and have been treated terribly in the past. Although this is incredibly sad, we’re happy to be able to give these wonderful animals new lives and careers – keeping people safe and taking drugs off the streets. We’re proud to say we’ve also won an award for our work with rescue dogs.
“As well as detecting illegal substances, the days of our ‘proactive drugs detection, firearms and cash dogs’ are very varied. One day they might be going into a school with their handler to help educate children around drug crime and the dangers. The next day, they could be searching a building or vehicle to help us with an investigation.
“And this is just one of our dog teams. We also have teams dedicated to supporting firearms officers; detecting explosives; and victim recovery; as well as general purpose dogs which are multi-skilled and can search for people and property, track where people have travelled along a variety of terrains, or assist in detaining criminals when violent or trying to avoid capture. In total, we have 39 operational canine officers in Avon and Somerset.
“Our dogs are not only part an essential part of the team, while off duty they are also a huge part of any handler’s family, living with them, protecting them, and sometimes even holidaying with them.”
Meet our dogs
PD Kos is a nine-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross Whippet and was a rescue dog from RSPCA West Hatch. His favourite pastime is destroying tennis balls and his favourite food is broccoli stalks. His trainer, PC Lee Webb, received a Special Recognition Award in 2016 for his work with Rescue Dogs at a Daily Mirror and RSPCA event.
PD Fred is a seven-year-old Labrador. He’s been in service for the past two years. His favourite toy is an old fluffy rabbit toy that he takes to bed with him; his best find included locating £20,000 worth of class A drugs in the engine compartment of a vehicle; and his greatest achievement is acting as a great ambassador for the police at public events - allowing young and old to come and say hello and have direct contact with a police dog and its handler.
PD Ollie is an English Springer Spaniel (liver and white) and he’s six and a half years old.
PD Harry, aged seven, is a Boxer cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier and was a rescue Dog from RSPCA West Hatch. His greatest achievement was his modelling career (securing the front page of the RSPCA’s 2014 promotional annual magazine). He started his policing career in 2013 when he was trained to find drugs, cash and firearms. He gets very excited, usually around people, when he growls and barks and can’t contain himself due to the excitement of getting attention. Every time PD Harry does a good job, he is rewarded with his chewy pink kong toy.
Nine-year-old PD Alfie is an English Springer Spaniel (black and white). One of his notable finds was drugs in a wall cavity under a shower tray. He also suffers from vertigo, which wouldn’t normally be an issue, but his handler is 6’3” and sometimes needs to lift PD Alfie onto his shoulders.
PD Jake, is a nine-year-old Collie cross (black and white). He was a rescue dog who came from RSPCA West Hatch.
PD Bandit is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross Collie. He was a rescue dog from RSPCA Brent Knoll and is either two or three years old (sometimes it’s hard to tell with rescue dogs).
PD Benji is a Labrador cross English Springer Spaniel. He’s eight years old.
Seven-year-old PD Rufus is an English Springer Spaniel (black and white).
*No horses were exposed to drugs in the making of this April Fool’s Day video. The white powder featured was actually crushed-up Polo mints.