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Two more drug dogs at Isle of Man Prison 1 June 2007

Two more dogs have joined the fight against drugs at the Isle of Man Prison, Douglas.

Simon Murray with Dusty and DylanNewly appointed dog handler Simon Murray and his dogs, black Labrador Dylan and springer spaniel Dusty, will double the number of drug searches that are routinely undertaken at the Victoria Road jail.

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK went to see the dogs in action. He said:

‘Simon’s appointment is further evidence that we are increasing our efforts in the war on drugs inside the prison. We were delighted to achieve a 7.6% result in random drugs tests amongst prisoners during the whole of 2006 compared with a UK target of 10%. The prison management’s hardline policy on drugs seems to be very effective - in the first four months of this year, only 5.7% of random drug tests were positive.’

Simon Murray has 20 years’ experience as a prison officer and recently spent six weeks at Kirkham Prison, near Blackpool, completing Dylan’s training to become a passive drugs dog. He explained:

Dylan‘Dylan is only 14 months old and I got him as a puppy. When I was appointed he was fortunately assessed as suitable for working as a passive drugs dog and he completed training a couple of weeks ago. A passive drugs dog helps search people, both prisoners and visitors plus staff at the prison. To indicate the scent of an illegal substance Dylan will sit at the person’s feet. He gave his first positive indication last week and the visitor chose not to continue with a visit that day.’

Simon’s other dog Dusty has just started pre-training to become an active drugs dog – to undertake searches of prison buildings, land and vehicles as required. They join Stan Gorry and his dogs chocolate Labrador Charlie (passive) and springer spaniel Alfie (active) on the prison staff. Stan has worked as a dog handler at the prison since 1996.

Simon added:

‘Dogs have around a 300 times greater sense of smell than we do and having them is a very effective deterrent.’

Deputy Governor Colin Ring commented:

‘Appointing a second dog handler is aimed at ensuring drugs do not get into the prison. If a dog indicates a find on a visitor, that person would be offered a closed visit (behind a screen) or can choose to leave. Generally we find they are anxious to leave. Dogs have also proved effective in finding drugs which have been thrown over the prison walls. However, the indications of regular random drugs tests seems to indicate that our drugs policy is proving effective.’

Drug dog in actionREGULAR random drug tests carried out at the Isle of Man Prison show illegal drug use by inmates fell dramatically from 20.9% in 2004 to 7.62% last year. That amounts to a 63% reduction over three years and a significant fall on the 2005 figure of 12.8%. Every month 10% of prisoners are asked to provide urine samples which are tested for all illegal substances. A positive sample or refusal to provide a sample results in a loss of privileges while a negative result is rewarded with phone credits. See news release issued February 2007.

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