Letter: Life in the old prison dogs yet

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The Independent Online
THE article on the Prison Service dog service ('Prison dogs face death sentence', 30 January) suggested that the service intends to have the dogs destroyed, and that I had said that the dog service will or should be privatised.

No decision on the future of the dog service has been taken. The dogs' future would only come into question if market testing were undertaken and if a private sector contractor then won the contract - two significant 'ifs'. I made it clear when responding to a parliamentary question in April 1993 that, in those circumstances, every effort would be made to find work placements or homes for the dogs. The incoming contractor might well wish to take on fully trained dogs. The prison dog handlers also might wish to take them themselves and we would look for other suitable homes. Only if all of those avenues failed would consideration have to be given to having the dogs destroyed.

Derek Lewis

HM Prison Service

London SW1