SOUTH Yorkshire Police's dog handlers have been warned their unit faces cuts.

The move is being challenged by dog handlers and the Police Federation, is being considered after government funding was cut by £49.3million.

Dog handlers fear their unit could be halved - leading to the loss of 20 posts.

A number have contacted the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation to express fears over job losses and the impact the loss of dogs would have on crime fighting.

"Dogs and their handlers are definitely frontline resources so this puts to bed the government lies about cost-cutting not affecting the front line," said Neil Bowles, the Police Federation's chairman.

"I have had dog handlers approach me worried about the future. Nottinghamshire Police went down this route and reduced the number of dogs and handlers but soon realised they had made a mistake and are recruiting again."

Chief Constable David Crompton said: "We are looking at every aspect of policing to identify savings and this includes the Dog Support Unit.

"We have more dogs and handlers than similar or larger police forces so it is entirely legitimate to examine what options are available to make savings as part of a wider review of our operational support services.

"No decisions have been made at this stage but proposals have been submitted to reduce numbers, which will save the force money."

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