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Canine crimefighters to carry video camera

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 20, 2012 -- Updated 1038 GMT (1838 HKT)
Canine crimefighters in Staffordshire in England's West Midlands region, will have cameras strapped to their heads.
Canine crimefighters in Staffordshire in England's West Midlands region, will have cameras strapped to their heads.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The digital video camera is strapped on to the dog's head
  • Staffordshire Police handlers can watch the footage live via a monitor
  • The dogs can send back high quality images from dangerous or difficult locations
  • "This camera will allow them to search vast areas a lot faster," says a police dog handler

London (CNN) -- They've long been man's best friend, but now dogs with one British police force can hound criminals in a new way thanks to "FidoCam," a digital video camera that straps to the canine's head.

Staffordshire Police says it is the first force in the country to use the new technology with its dogs.

The hi-tech digital camera will send back pictures to a color monitor watched by the dog's handlers.

"This bit of kit is fantastic -- it attaches to the dog's head and we can get a live view of what they are seeing," said Insp. Chris Dawson, of Staffordshire Police's Dog Support Unit.

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The cameras will be particularly useful when canine crimefighters are sent into places where it's unsafe or difficult for their human counterparts to go.

"For example, when searching for a dangerous person we can send the dog into a building with the camera to search for them, when they indicate a find by barking we will be able to see exactly what or who they have found," said Dawson.

"It will also be extremely useful when searching difficult or inaccessible areas for missing people -- a dog can make its way through dense woodland and undergrowth very quickly. While the handler will maintain verbal contact with the dog this camera will allow them to search vast areas a lot faster."

Blog: Canines crimefighters -- when a dog isn't a dog

Fleeing suspects who are pursued by a police dog may also find their efforts to escape are caught on film.

Police dogs have previously been equipped with analogue cameras with a limited range but the new technology will mean they can send back a much clearer image from further away, police said.

The footage can be recorded and used as evidence in court, police said.

CNN's Alexander Felton contributed to this report.

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