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  1. ITV Report

Airport sniffer dogs fail to detect drugs - but found cheese and sausages

A sniffer dog at Gatwick - but some animals in Manchester failed to spot drugs Credit: PA

As the canine face of a highly-trained border force, it should come as no surprise that sniffer dogs at Manchester airport are quick to spot sausages and cheese tucked inside passengers' luggage.

Sadly, they were less effective when it came to identifying stashes of Class A drugs and ill-gotten cash, a highly critical new report has found.

The dogs failed to find a single person carrying heroin or cocaine over the border during a six month period studied by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

And hounds specially trained to find products of animal origin (POAO) tobacco and drugs seemed more focused on tasty tidbits than smugglers.

Heroin and cocaine were assessed as 'very high' priority within both air passengers and freight.

Yet,according to the data provided by Border Force, the dogs had made no Class A drugs detections in the period November 2014 to June 2015.

When deployed, the POAO dog made multiple accurate detections, but most were of small amounts of cheese or sausages, wrongly brought back by returning British holidaymakers and posing minimal risk to UK public health.

– Independent borders report

Over the period the dogs helped seize more than 46,000 cigarettes, 60kg of tobacco,181kg of illegal meat, and £28,000 cash.

The dogs were successful on three occasions at detecting illegal drugs, finding small amounts of Class B substances. They also found tablets of human growth hormone, Viagra and Bromazepam.

It added that although it was hard to measure how effective the dogs were as a deterrent, the seizures represented a poor return on the £1.2 million annual cost of running the canine team.

Not the cat's whiskers: the report criticised border dogs in Manchester Credit: PA

The Home Office said it fully accepted all of the recommendations of the report, which said that borders teams should review how sniffer dogs were used.

A spokeswoman said that the team was conducting all required checks but acknowledged "further improvements need to be made".

She added that many of the recommendations were already being implemented.