DDN November 2022 DDN Nov_2022 - Page 18

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A NOSE FOR DUTY

The job of detecting drugs in prisons falls to a very keen team , as DDN discovers

It ’ s Tuesday morning at the village sports and social club . Three people stand in a line inside the venue , about two metres apart . A man in dark clothing – who turns out to be a prison officer – watches from the side . The door from the outside terrace opens and a police officer steps inside with a young black labrador . The people in the line stiffen slightly and the dog wags at them enthusiastically .

The dog handler asks whether anyone has anything on them they would like to declare , then explains that she will conduct a brief search . She moves the pup to the first person , gently guiding him towards their shoes , their pockets , their clothing . She asks a tall man to sit on a chair so the dog can sniff his pockets and hood
more easily . The dog concentrates and moves to the points indicated by his handler , rising very gently to sniff the higher points on each person ’ s body .
Suddenly the dog tenses and remains completely still , rooted to the spot , focusing intently on the last man ’ s pocket . He has indicated , successfully , that there ’ s a gram of coke in it . The tense atmosphere breaks , the handler unclips her dog from the lead and rewards him with heaps of praise and a joyful game with a squeaky ball , before taking him outside for more ball play on the field .
TRAINING TECHNIQUES The people in the line swap over to a different three , another dog handler appears with a different dog , and the exercise begins again .
This is the format you would see in different settings throughout the criminal justice system to detect drugs , but today it ’ s a training exercise and the dogs are young pupils learning the techniques alongside their handlers .
They are introduced to people of various sizes and ages , including
a child . Different people are brought into the line-up , the drugs are moved around the participants , and the handler sometimes asks people to sit on a chair for the search . The dogs encounter a motorised wheelchair for the first time and Paul is asked to move forward and turn his chair
18 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • NOVEMBER 2022 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM