Government Officials from Defra, Home Office and Ministry of Justice have formed a new taskforce aimed at stoppng criminals who are active in dog theft.

Led by Environment minister George Eustice, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Sec Robert Buckland the taskforce will gather evidence and understand the factors behind the rise in the thefts and what can be done to stop it.It will also seek input from animal welfare groups and experts in relevant fields

The Taskforce will learn lessons from successes in tackling other types of theft, such as mobile phone or metal theft, and how to clamp down most effectively on this illegal market and those engaged in it.

Taskforce partner, Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said:

Dog theft is a very emotive issue which has a huge impact on families or individuals and we are aware of a growing concern around this issue. The taskforce will support us in understanding this risk and also identifying trends involving serious and organised crime.

The taskforce will enable us to gather intelligence across the country and tackle groups who work across geographical boundaries. We hope that this is a step forward in providing reassurance that we are committed to understanding any risks fully, and challenging related criminal behaviour.

Police have advised that dog owners should avoid leaving their pet unattended while out in public, vary their routines when walking their dogs and should take basic security steps at home such as checking locks on doors and garden gates.

We will not find out their findings or recommendations until the autumn however we will update you with any new information as soon as its made public .