Isle of Man Prison Service
Dogs and Handlers
Sniffer dogs have been used to detect drugs at the Isle of Man Prison since 1996.
Dogs are believed to have about 300 times the smelling ability of humans and their presence is an effective deterrent against drugs getting into the prison.
Both 'passive' and 'active' drugs dogs are used at the Isle of Man Prison in Jurby.
A passive drugs dog helps to search people – prisoners and visitors plus staff at the prison.
To indicate the scent of an illegal substance the passive dog will sit at the person’s feet. This occurs on average about 25 times a year. Visitors are first searched by gate staff and stand in line in front of the dogs. If a dog indicates a drug scent on a visitor, they are offered a closed (non contact) visit, or can leave. Three indications on the same visitor will result in a three month exclusion of that person.
Active drugs dogs carry out searches at frequent but irregular intervals of the prison perimeter walls, exercise yard and the exterior gardens plus cells and vehicles.
Stan Gorry was appointed the prison's first dog handler in 1996 with his dog Sam. Today he has English springer spaniel Alfie (active) and shorthaired German pointer Jack (passive) working at the prison.
Dog handler Simon Murray was appointed in May 2007 and currently has English springer spaniel Dusty (active) and Labrador retriever Dylan (passive).
Active dogs Dusty and Alfie search for heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis and mephedrone. The dogs can also sniff out heroin substitute subutex, a legal substance but not permitted in prison.
Dusty is also licensed to search for mobile phones, phone SIM cards and phone batteries.
Drugs dogs remain at the prison for the duration of their handler's shift but do not work constantly during that time. They have a working life of about eight years .