A CALL has been made for sniffer dogs to be used on trains to Andover in a bid to stop drugs coming into the town.

MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse has made the plea after drug fears from residents and a number of arrests of suspected drug dealers from cities including London.

The type of crime sees dealers commute from larger cities to smaller towns, such as Andover, to sell drugs before returning, and forces around the country, including Hampshire Constabulary, have launched operations to tackle the so-called ‘county lines’ issue.

In April this year the government set up a new scheme, coined the County Lines Coordination Centre, to try and stamp out this approach.

But now Mr Malthouse is urging for the police and the government to consider using sniffer dogs on trains from Basingstoke to Andover and the return journeys to catch those with drugs.

Mr Malthouse said: “I have proposed this idea and I am reassured that the new County Lines Coordination Centre which was recently announced by the government as part of their new Serious Violence Strategy with £3.6 million funding will consider what more they can do on the transport network.”

Currently the route is not a prime focus for police dogs, but it has not been ruled out for action on the line if intelligence was presented to the British Transport Police (BTP), which would deploy the units.

A spokesman for the force said: “BTP currently has a number of hard-working police dogs across the UK, who are a mixture of general purpose and explosive dogs.

“They are able to respond to incidents wherever they might happen and patrol trains across England and Wales.

“At the moment, we have no specific plans to deploy a dog unit on this specific route, but are constantly using intelligence to ensure our officers are in the right place at the right time.”