Police dogs: Sniffer dog takes to Sheffield streets to root out drugs

An operation to sniff out drugs at the root of violent crime in Sheffield was carried out in the city centre today.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 8:50 am

There was no hiding from the nose of sniffer dog Rosco yesterday as Operation Sidewinder made its way in and around Haymarket.

For some it was a chance to meet an enthusiastic black Labrador on the job.

But for others, they either had the sudden surprise of finding Rosco tailing them closely before being questioned by police.

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Sniffer dog Rosco was deployed to Sheffield city centre to search for anyone carrying illicit substances on the streets.

And for those who noticeably tried to steer clear of the Labrador, they found themselves met by uncercover officers asking if they had anything to declare.

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“Rosco is with us today as part of Operation Sidewinder to identify people in possession of controlled substances,” said Sergeant John Simpson.

“We’ve found that, not only do we find have good success finding those substances, but we have a positive reception from the public who appreciate seeing a visible police presence acting against drugs. A lot of people stop us and ask what we’re doing.

A man is stopped outside the cathedral after Rosco took an interest in him. The man was not carrying any substances, but was offered information material on how to get away from drugs.

“And, it tends to be the case that where there are drugs there are knives. There are strong links between drugs and violent crime.”

Operation Sidewinder, which was launched in 2019, works with sniffer dogs like Rosco, SYP's Sheffield Centre Neighbourhood team and the council’s CCTV network to sweep Sheffield for illicit substances.

Anyone who Rosco takes an interest in will be asked if they are carrying anything prohibited.

Cunningly, the team are also supported by officers in plain clothes at a distance trained to notice anyone who suddenly changes course when they spot the sniffer dog.

Rosco meets with members of the public outside Castle Square tram stop.

In the hour The Star spent with Rosco on the beat, three men were stopped. None of them were carrying any substances. One admitted to being a cannabis user and was given reference material for services to help him quit.

The operation also sweeps the city on Friday and Saturday nights to tackle the links between combining drink and drug use – particularly cocaine – and violent crime.

“It’s important to say that Rosco doesn’t discriminate,” said Sgt Simpson.

“He’s a highly trained animal use to identify people in contact with controlled dugs. He’s a very fair, balanced and transparent process in how he finds substances.”

Another man stopped by Rosco. He was not carrying any illicit substances and admitted to being a cannabis user. He was offered informational material on how to get away from drugs if he wanted.
South Yorkshire Police says the operation is well received by the public who are happy to see a visible police presence.