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Using man’s best friend to enhance prison security

Passive alert dog at training

Passive Alert Dog (PAD) training courses have been conducted in Victoria since 1998, and fully-trained dogs and their handlers make an important contribution to security in Victoria’s prison system.

The training takes twelve weeks, followed by a three month transition period to make the dogs and their handlers become fully operational.

Corrections Victoria’s Security and Emergency Services Group (SESG) manages this program. It has a long-standing relationship with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, and accesses suitable dogs through their breeding programs.

PAD dogs are very active and attentive Labradors, and range between 18 months and two years of age when they commence their training. They usually retire after about seven years on the job.

The training of the dogs focuses on odour recognition for contraband for the first four weeks, and the remaining eight weeks are spent on learning and improving searching techniques.

The learning approach for the dogs is aligned to the Australian Customs training techniques for the first half of the course. The program then moves into training in prison-specific search techniques and processes, to ensure that the dogs and their handlers are equipped to operate effectively in the challenging prison environment.