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Savvy sniffers boost protection at NZ border and prisons

03.50pm 08 December 2016 | News

For Corrections, this course was the first to use a new dog training area at the National Learning Centre, as well as facilities at the Police Dog Training Centre.

This year Corrections’ Dog Section celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Dog Section has expanded from just two handlers when it began, to a total of 19 detector dog teams in prisons around the country. Over the years, the Dog Section has developed and adapted to changing demands of new policies and legislation, new types of contraband and new methods of introducing contraband into our prisons.

Corrections’ Manager Specialist Search John Gallagher says, “New Zealand’s working dogs have proven very effective at detecting contraband and acting as a deterrent, discouraging people from trying to smuggle illicit items into prisons, or the country.”

“Interagency cooperation is a very important part of our job,” says John. “We have good relationships with our partner agencies and work closely with them to ensure we are keeping up with new types of contraband and new ways smuggling it.”

The newest additions to Corrections’ detector dog team will be based at Mt Eden Corrections Facility, Auckland Prison, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Rimutaka Prison and Christchurch Men’s Prison, while the Customs detector dogs will be deployed to Auckland and Christchurch.

Chief Customs Officer Detector Dog Unit and Response, Danielle Loza says “detector dogs play a vital role in Customs’ multi-layered approach to enforcement at the border, helping stop illicit drugs and cash from getting into New Zealand.”

Customs detector dogs are recruited for their attitude, temperament, and are trained to detect a wide variety of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamine, methamphetamine (‘P’) and its precursors.

“This year’s Budget has provided funding to boost Customs detector dog capability from 15 to 20 teams,” says Danielle. “The 5 new teams are a welcome addition as we head into the peak summer travel season,” says Danielle.

Aviation Security is the branch of the Civil Aviation Authority responsible for providing security services at New Zealand’s five security-designated airports. Its prestigious explosive detector dog (EDD) training programme was officially recognised by the United States’ Transportation Security Administration in 2014—a world-first acknowledgement.

Aviation Security EDD National Manager Monique Masoe says, “As an EDD, our dogs enjoy a great life and do an important job—not just for Avsec, but for the travelling public and airport community.”

The organisation now has 28 teams working around the country.