Tuesday 2 August 2011 by waylandsmithy

Police to track illicit alcohol with aid of sniffer tramps


The police are fighting back against traffickers of illegal alcohol by enlisting the help of specially-trained packs of sniffer tramps.

Fake and untaxed alcohol is a growing issue in the UK, leaving the police looking for new and innovative ways to tackle the problem.

Tramps do not have the best eye sight – to them, the world around them often appears blurred, or slightly spinning – but in order to hunt down their favourite prey, the ‘booze hounds’ have developed an amazing sense of smell.

Tramp handler Sgt. Phelps from the Nottingham constabulary is constantly amazed at what his tramp can do.

He told us, “Bonzo here, he can track down the smallest quantities of alcohol, even on a crowded high street. He’s found it lurking in shoe polish, nail varnish, aftershave: even in Budweiser.”

Illegal alcohol

The handlers have to be quick when a tramp tracks down some moonshine, as Phelps explained, “We have to step in sharply and wrestle it off them. If they manage to consume any, it can really reduce their performance.”

“Obviously, we reward them with a drop of sherry if they do really well. But if you give them too much, it can lead to singing, and Bonzo’s got a fiery temper. He often starts fights with himself.”

The training can be very intense and by the end, only the very best tramps are left standing. Many of the tramps move erratically, and fall down a lot, but handlers have an inate respect for their sheer capacity for drink.

Sgt. Phelps dismissed suggestions that using tramps is cruel, “Their hands shake with excitement when they track down a cache of booze. Just look into Bonzo’s big, yellow eyes: you can tell he loves tracking down glyco-alcohol. It’s in his blood.”

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