MORE than 30 suspects and two officers were bitten by police dogs across a single year, figures released by Essex Police have revealed.

The force, which boasts a dog unit which helps to make around 1,000 arrests every year, released the statistics after a freedom of information request.

They show that between April 2017 and March 2018, 34 suspects were bitten by police dogs.

From April 2018 to March 2019, 38 suspects were bitten, with two of those suspects receiving compensation.

They received payouts of £4,000 and £2,500.

Across the same period, five police officers and three members of the public were bitten by police dogs.

From April 2019 to March 2020, 39 suspects were bitten, along with two police officers.

Gazette: Caught - police dogs in Essex help to nab hundreds of criminals every yearCaught - police dogs in Essex help to nab hundreds of criminals every year

Essex Police’s dog unit was formed in 1953 with two dogs, a Doberman, called Remoh, and Senta, a German Shepherd, plus the two officers, PC Pete Cousins and PC Dan Hare.

In June 1955, they made their first arrest after attending a burglary at Cherry Tree Public House, in Mersea Road, Colchester.

Now the unit, which consists of 27 members of staff, provides all year cover to the entire county, providing support to almost every operational department in the force.

The force has more than 40 working police dogs, helping to make around 1,000 arrests per year.

There are general purpose dogs, firearms support dogs, search dogs able to find drugs, firearms and cash, explosive and forensic evidence search dogs.

Technology has also allowed the force to put cameras on firearms dogs to give a view of building searches.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "General purpose police dogs are trained to exceptionally high standards and play a key role in responding to a variety of situations.

"Careful consideration is made of the individual circumstances of each incident and whether it is necessary and proportionate to deploy a police dog.

"Of the many incidents that our police dogs attend, very few result in injuries to suspects or other members of the public.

"We ensure they receive medical attention and all incidents involving dog bites are recorded and reviewed to consider if any further action is needed.

"All general purpose dogs are licensed to operate and are continually assessed, and the dogs and their handlers undergo regular refresher training."

Read more: