Highly-trained dogs are being wired with hi-tech headset cameras that will allow them to search buildings and send the information back to police handlers.

Northumbria Police's specialist dogs are being supplied with the aptly-named Fido headset systems to give an accurate picture of what officers could face in dangerous situations.

The headsets also feature infra-red lights to provide pictures in darkness.

Pictures are viewed on a receiver unit carried by the handler, while an audio function allows the handler to listen to any disturbance close to the dog.

Northumbria Police is the first force in the North-East to take delivery of the Fido equipment - which consists of a miniature television camera and radio transmitter mounted on a lightweight head harness.

Sergeant Glen Bland, of the force's dog section, said: ''The dogs can operate absolutely as normal and just seem to forget the camera is there.''

Firearms dogs can be used at incidents where there is reason to suspect that an officer or members of the public may face an armed or dangerous person, and where the only form of restraint is through firearms.

Sgt Bland said: ''They really are the creme de la creme and are trained to an extremely high standard.

''Their skills include being able to stop outside rooms and then search a room purely by hand signals.

''There is often the situation where two firearms dogs work in the same area, but they are so well-trained they will not be distracted by what the other is doing at all.''