By Kirsty Topping
PRISONERS at a young offender’s institute are being given dogs with behavioural problems to stop them reoffending.
It’s hoped that by training the animals youngsters at Polmont Young Offender’s Institution will help them learn transferrable skills to help them secure education, employment or training when they leave.
Male inmates at the 700 person facility are being paired with the dogs, which they then train so it can be rehomed.
The pilot scheme also helps inmates address their own behavioural problems.
The Scottish Prison Service is working with the Dog’s Trust to find suitable animals and the project will be subject to a three year research assessment by PhD student Rebecca Leonardi from Stirling University.
“By helping the dogs, the young offenders are helping themselves at the same time,’ explained Rebecca.
“There are quite strong anti-education factors involved in working with young offenders.
“But if they are given something that they feel a real enthusiasm for, then you can develop that. “
Initially the project will involve just two groups of six offenders who will log the development of their charges and create
“canine CV’s’ – which will help them boost employment skills.
“From early visits and meetings with the boys, you can see the amount of engagement there is when there is a dog present. “
Rebecca also claims that there are
“strong parallels’ between the offenders and the dogs.
“The dogs have been discarded and the boys often fell that they have too. “
Rebecca, a professional dog trainer, was inspired by similar schemes in America and Australia and now hopes that is could be adopted at prisons across the country, or even turned into an accredited qualification.