Scientists at Porton Down, the UK government’s top secret defence laboratory near Salisbury, are training specialist sniffer dogs to detect new variants of the zombie drug Spice.
The dogs are to be deployed in prisons across the country to sniff out this drug. Comment: many years ago I used to be a solicitor practising family law but I did a little bit of criminal law as well. I had to go to prisons sometimes as my clients were prisoners. I can confirm that there is a terrible drug problem in prisons which appears to be deliberately overlooked by prison officers because these drugs subdue the inmates which is useful to prison officers and senior managers.
It appears that suppliers of Spice are often one step ahead of prison officer sniffer dogs because they’re constantly changing the chemical ingredients of the drug to avoid it being detected by the animals. It appears that sniffer dogs are trained to detect a specific smell and if the drug is modified slightly they struggle.
The scientists have received £300,000 from the Ministry of Justice to teach dogs to be able to detect all forms of Spice even when the formula is changed. The scientists work at Porton Down’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. This is a world-renowned research laboratory into chemical weapons and deadly diseases.
Over the past year, sniffer dogs have detected 100 kg of drugs in prisons. Also, more than 2,000 illegal items were stopped from getting into prisons by dogs. The items detected include cannabis, heroin, tobacco, sim cards, mobile phones and including, of course, Spice.
Because of its cheapness, Spice has recently become the most popular prison drug. It is causing rising levels of violence among inmates. It has also driven up health problems both psychologically and physically.
Lucy Frazer, the prisons minister said: “Spice drives violence, self-harm and crime behind bars so it’s crucial we prevent it getting into the hands of prisoners. That’s why we are investing millions in technology, sniffer dogs and training to cut smuggling and ensure prisons are places where people can turn their backs on crime.”
A spokesperson for Porton Down said that they were pleased to be working with the Ministry of Justice to tackle the drug problem in UK jails. This contradicts my observations which I refer to above except that Spice appears to achieve the opposite to calming prisoners. So maybe they are pleased to be able to successfully tackle the Spice epidemic.