AT FOUR weeks-old, the last thing on the minds of these Springer spaniel puppies is catching criminals.

But by the time they reach their second birthday, these West Midlands Police dogs will be ready for action to sniff out weapons, drugs, cash, stolen goods or even explosives.

The nine spaniels – three boys and six girls – were born on December 8 at the force’s in-house police dog academy in Balsall Common.

And the pups have been named by members of the public, after Twitter followers were asked to think of names beginning with the letter O – as each litter is named after a letter of the alphabet.

The puppies have therefore been called Odem, Orville, Osca, Oreo, Olivia, Olympia, Oriel, Oasis and Oxo.

Breed Scheme Manager PC Terry Arnett, said: "It's incredible how quickly they develop: for the first 10 days they can't see and are totally dependent on their mum. But just a couple of weeks later they've pretty much trebled in size, have been weaned onto solid dog food and are developing their own little personalities.

"In the next fortnight they'll be let out of the whelping block for the first time; no doubt they'll have great fun exploring the main building and, of course, taking their first steps outdoors!"

West Midlands Police runs the largest, most successful police dog breed scheme in the UK with more than 80 per cent of all dogs going through the training programme becoming operational.

Any that don’t make the grade are sold as working dogs or go for pets.