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It’s a dog’s life for inmates at Norwich Prison who are helping to be rehabilitated by some pedigree chums

PUBLISHED: 18:30 07 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:47 07 February 2017

Norfolk's police and crime commissioner Lorne Green with two rescue dogs used in prison rehabilitation project. PIC: Supplied by Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk

Norfolk's police and crime commissioner Lorne Green with two rescue dogs used in prison rehabilitation project. PIC: Supplied by Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk

Archant

Some might say it is ruff justice but dogs are being used in prison as part of a ground-breaking new scheme to help rehabilitate inmates.

Two rescue dogs have been brought into Norwich Prison once a week with a trainer who has given a small group of offenders new skills in dog handling and training as part of a pilot project.

The scheme, which was unleashed by Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Lorne Green who funded the first three months of the project, has proved so successful that it is to be extended for a further three months,

Mr Green, himself a dog lover, had spoken with the prison after taking office last year about whether dogs, which have been used in places like hospices to help those in need, could be used to help rehabilitate offenders by giving them something positive to focus on.

He said: “A dog is said to be a man’s best friend and I don’t know of anyone more in need of a friend than a prisoner.”

“It’s been a positive experience for the prison, for the prisoners and for the animals.

“The dogs, which come from rescue homes, have been turned from aggressive, angry dogs that are now so well mannered and behaved that homes have now been found for them.

“That’s down to the attention that prisoners have given to them under the guidance of a professional dog trainer that we’ve made available.”

Prison bosses are said to be so impressed by the positive impact the scheme has had that they are sniffing out the possibility of getting a permanent kennel facility built at the Knox Road jail so more dogs and more prisoners can be helped.

Mr Green said he had met with prisoners involved in the scheme and got the impression they could not wait until Fridays to spend time with their pedigree chums.

The PCC, whose office will now provide £2500 to extend the pilot, said he hoped the prison would be able to expand the scheme.

“I think we’re breaking new ground and helping to turn the prisoners’ lives around. If we can turn around one life its worth it. Everyone benefits. It’s good for the prisoners, good for the prison while the dogs also benefit. It’s win, win win.”

No-one at the Ministry of Justice was available for comment.


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