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The contractor G4S reports that some 20 sniffer dogs and their handlers have now undergone month-long training to learn how to detect illegal drugs in prisons, often referred to as ‘Spice’ or ‘Mamba’.
Formerly known as ‘legal highs’ before criminalisation in May this year, these synthetic cannabis substances have also been linked to increased violence in prisons across the UK. As part of efforts to tackle such contraband in prisons, G4S has trained every sniffer dog in service at the five prisons the company manages on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Dogs at HMP Altcourse near Liverpool, HMP Birmingham, HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton, HMP Parc near Bridgend and HMP Rye Hill in Warwickshire received their official accreditation after being licensed by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).
G4S Canine and Training Manager, Lee Deighton, said: “All of these dogs were already deployed to the prisons, and I’m pleased to say they all passed the additional detection training with flying colours. Our dogs are trained over a period of three to four weeks to detect strains of legal highs.
“In practice it is similar to the standard narcotics detection training – during the initial stages, dogs learn to recognise the scent and then progress to make a passive indication on people and places where they detect the scent. For the final part, we test the dogs in a live prison environment, placing contraband in unoccupied cells and ensuring they are able to detect it.”
And Jerry Petherick, Managing Director for G4S Custody and Detention, said: “There is no place in prison for drugs and these dogs are vital assets in our drive to create and maintain safe environments which support prisoners to turn away from crime. There is still some way to go but new legislation and testing regimes together with the relentless work of dedicated prison officers and these detection dogs is having an impact against the threat from new psychoactive substances.
“There should be no doubting our determination to tackle the supply of these kinds of substances to the prisons we manage. We will always refer cases to the police and push for the strongest possible sanctions in court.”