Prison drug dogs will be trained to sniff out new and emerging strands of Spice as part of a comprehensive plan to tackle violence and disorder behind bars.
In the last year alone over 100 kilograms of illegal drugs, including Spice, have been detected by drug dogs in England and Wales. But the efforts of some suppliers to outwit detection by changing the chemical make-up of Spice makes it difficult for dogs to find.
The new funding announced today will mean scientists can develop enhanced training courses which will help sniffer dogs in detecting new and adapted variants of Spice – keeping illegal drugs out of prison and reducing reoffending which costs the tax-payer £18 billion a year.
Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer MP, said:
The partnership between the Ministry of Justice and the Dstl will see scientists analysing the psychoactive substance as it changes, to determine the most effective and safest way to train dogs to sniff out new blends of Spice.
The sniffer dogs will then undergo training in scent recognition followed by an operational assessment before they are placed into prisons.
Dog handler and trainer, Kev Appleton from the National Dog Inspectorate, said:
A Dstl spokesperson said:
The partnership and training are being funded by the government’s £2.75 billion commitment to transform the prison estate. This includes:
- £100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on contraband such as drugs, weapons, and mobile phones that fuel violence, self-harm and crime behind bars.
- £2.5 billion to provide 10,000 additional prison places and create modern, efficient jails that rehabilitate offenders, reduce reoffending and keep the public safe.
- £156 million to tackle the most pressing maintenance issues to create safe and decent conditions for offender rehabilitation.
Between April 2019 to March 2020 there were 2,236 finds of illicit items by dogs in prisons.