Annual Report 1996 - 1997

Dog Squad

One of the Department’s main assets in detecting criminal activity among prisoners, particularly the use of illicit drugs, is the Dog Squad.

The Squad consists of five officer/handlers, six dogs and a Co-ordinator, who reports to the Director Offender Services, Metropolitan Region.

Liaison between the South Australian Police Dog Squad, interstate correctional services dog squads and Customs Drug Dog Unit is ongoing, with information and training exchanges working well.

The Dog Squad has responsibility for various drug detection operations using its own personnel, dogs and computerised equipment, the Itemiser Narcotic Detector, which was purchased in 1995-96. The Squad not only targets prisoners, but late in the reporting year launched a concerted operation against visitors bringing drugs into Yatala Labour Prison. This will be extended into other prisons next financial year.

The Squad used the Narcotic Identification Kit testing equipment on 19 occasions to supply tests for institutions to identify seized substances.

The Itemiser was similarly used four times for testing substances.

Dogs were used in 1025 drug searches covering all institutions with the following results:

Drug Search Operations

The Squad launched 15 drug search operations at institutions which were assisted by the Intelligence Analysis Unit.

The Itemiser Narcotic Detector was deployed at institutions 35 times, screening 912 visitors with 23 returning positive results to narcotics.

The limited availability of female officers to assist with screening and pat searching of suspect female visitors has a controlling influence on the number of times the Itemiser can be deployed at institutions. Specific female officer recruitment will be conducted in 1997-98 to address this problem.

Computer Medication I.D. System

The Computer Medication I.D. System was introduced to the Squad this year.

This system is a computer database which holds descriptive information on all medical drugs available in the community. Use of the system enables Dog Squad officers to speedily identify any unauthorised drugs or substances found in prisons.

The computerised system replaces the Mims Manual, which contained similar information, but the process of identification was laborious and required sending the substance to the South Australian Forensic Laboratory for analysis. The computerised system has been operational since June and its use is expected to result in a possible saving of a minium of $300 per test.

The Squad conducted 124 security escorts for High 1 security rated and prisoners of concern and was involved in four incidents of attempted escapes. Officers recaptured two prisoners and assisted in the recovery of two prisoners still on premises.

On four occasions the Dog Squad either attended, or was put on stand-by, to attend institutions to assist with prisoner unrest.

Five members of the Squad attended a four-day training workshop at Fort Largs Police Academy on Intelligence Collation. This course was conducted by the South Australian Police and the Department’s Intelligence Analysis Unit.

The knowledge and skills gained has assisted the Squad in developing its intelligence capabilities and integrating these with the other intelligence elements of the Department and other agencies in the wider criminal intelligence community.

Requests by Group 4 for the Dog Squad to attend Mount Gambier Prison for drug searches had the effect of accumulating searches towards the end of the financial year. Group 4 requested that the remaining credit of searches be combined into a surveillance operation, which was authorised and conducted. The Squad placed the prison’s external perimeter under surveillance for five consecutive days and nights. No drug related events were uncovered by this operation.

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