Budding drug detector dogs and their human handlers have been handed a homeground advantage in the fight against contraband amid a Marshall Government initiative to ensure an intensive course previously run interstate is delivered locally.
The move is saving taxpayer dollars by eliminating costs associated with sending and accommodating South Australian handlers to the 12-week Queensland-based course, while also allowing the Passive Alert Drug Detection (PADD) dogs and their handlers to train in the prisons they will end up operating at.
The running of the course locally has also lowered the impact to handlers’ work-life balance by not having to travel interstate and allowed the Department for Correctional Services to retain them as an available resource to respond to incidents in SA if required.
Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services Corey Wingard said allowing the dogs and their handlers to train in the environment they would be working in meant they could hit the ground running once deployed.
“Drugs and contraband smuggled into our prisons have a real affect on the rehabilitation efforts of prisoners and the safety of Correctional staff,” Minister Wingard said.
“That is why we make no apologies for the Marshall Government’s tough approach to prison security, which also includes such measures as banning anyone who has been identified as a member, associate, or who associates with criminal organisations, from visiting prisoners.”
Last year, the Department for Correctional Services sent Rob Seamons to QLD for 12 weeks to run under supervision a PADD course for the QLD dog squad.
Mr Seamons returned to SA a qualified PADD instructor and is now running the first SA-based PADD course for two new Handlers.
Mr Seamons said that the course allows the handlers and dogs to train in the roles and procedures that the South Australian Corrections department utilises, while remaining available as a state resource if needed.
“By being based in SA, the dog-handler pairing is trained in their real operating environments as opposed to that of QLD prisons which they will never be deployed into.”
The course is in Week 7 and the dogs and handlers recently passed their Week 5 assessment by a QLD assessor who attended SA for 2 days to complete the review.
All dogs and handlers will receive their final assessment and sign-off as operational dog and handler teams at week 10.
Week 11 and 12 of the course is focused on environmental training which means working within the prison environment.
Bringing the course in-house will complement the Marshall Government’s Better Prisons Program which has made our correctional system safer by building 270 high-security beds at Yatala and 40 new beds at the Adelaide Women’s Prison.