updated 12/10/01
HM Prison Service National Dog Trials 2001

THE H.M. Prison Service National Dog Trials were held at the H.M. Prison Officers Service College, Newbold Revel, Warks. from 5th to 8th September 2001.

The tests comprised search for person(s), search for property, obedience, agility and criminal work. Fourteen competitors took part normally selected by eliminating competitions throughout the country. The elimination trials in the early part of the year had been cancelled due to Foot and Mouth and selection this year for the Nationals was by nomination.

Search for Persons

This was judged by P.O./H Dave Harrison from Belmarsh and S.O. D/H John Stiff from Full Sutton Prison. The exercise was set in about 15 acres of Woodland within the grounds of the College. The area was split through the centre by a ride and fire break. Although the area was ideal there was a restriction on areas again because of Foot and Mouth.

Director General of H.M. Prison Service watching the trials with Commissioner
Want Gud-Feng of the Chinese Police Dog Training School

The handlers were instructed that there were two persons in the area which the dog had to locate. One in fact was rather close to the start point and if the handler went too far into the woodland, because of the direction of the wind, the scent could in fact be behind him. This however did not cause any problems. The first person was accessible to the dog, the second on the same side of the ridge was 15 feet up a tree. There was no biting which compliments the standard of control. Every dog found at least one person with the majority find both. Unlike the search results in 2000 results mainly were far from disappointing with half of the dogs being awarded over 100 marks from the 130 allocated to this exercise.

Search for Property

The Judge for this exercise was P.O. D/H John Stringer, Bristol and S.O. D/H John Sheehan from Manchester Prisons. The location again because of Foot and Mouth was limited and the selection area was open meadow within the College Grounds and on short grass.

The search area was 25 metres square and the articles kept small because of the area. They were a metal “D” ring from a mail bag, a 1” piece of green scouring pad and a 3/4” piece of hardwood. The articles were well scented by the steward prior to being place in the search area.

Commissioner Wang with Steve Allen OIC - H.M Prison Dogs

Over half the dogs obtained over 50% of the marks for this exercise. Because of the articles being kept small this did in fact create a problem for Simon Thompson with Max from Full Sutton in that his dog swallowed the 1” square piece of scouring pad. Apparently it stuck to the dog’s tongue, the handler tried to retrieve it but down it went. Although he presented to the judge next day no marks were awarded. Judges comment “You are out of time”. “Max is only 15 months and this is the first time he has been entered in Trials.”


The Judge for these exercises was P.O. John Stringer and set out on the playing field in the grounds of the College.

The exercise commenced with Heelwork off the Lead, a really good long and practical test with normal, slow and fast pace being demonstrated. Halts were in the down, sit and stand.

Criminal work

The ‘Retrieve’ article was a small bunch of keys, not the easiest of articles, although very few dogs had any difficulty which one would expect from a Prison Service Dog. All dogs were German Shepherds. The handler was required to through the keys a distance of about 30 metres, send his dog on command, retrieve into the present position, take the article then heel the dog.

The ‘Speak on Command’ was done with the handlers back to the dog. This was done twice with the speak and the cease. There were no real problems.

This was followed with the 3’ hurdle and a 9’ long jump. All dogs that I saw cleared the hurdle. As is usual the long jump had the odd failure.

The ‘Distance Control’ with the dog being left in the sit position at about 30 metres. The handler was required to put his dog from the stand into the sit, down and sit and then return in that order. The exercise was well executed although some dogs, because of moving into the positions wrongly, by the end of the exercise had moved forward well over their body length in distance.

Winner Ian Fletcher with Maverick

The last exercise in the obedience and probably the most difficult and which usually sorts the ‘men from the boys’, the ‘Send Away & Redirection’. The dog was required to be sent straight out to a marker, a distance of about 200 metres. The redirection was to the handlers right or left, a distance again of about 200 metres. Some dogs had difficulty distracted by a small pile of sand. Results from this exercise were fairly good and I think there was a distinct improvement from last year.

The ‘10 minute down’ with the handlers out of sight. This exercise was well performed.

Criminal Work

The culmination and the highlight of any Prison Service Trials is the Criminal Work. The Judge was P.O. Dave Harrison and this was located on the College sports field.

The exercises commenced with the gun exercise but as one would expect with Prison Service dogs they had no difficulty with this or the very determined stick exercise which followed. These Prison Service dogs were hard, really hard but control was a pleasure to watch and as good as I have ever seen at any Service or Police Dog Trial.

The chase followed which was extremely long. The dog is held on the lead for all exercises, something that is done in Prison Service Trials but not in the Police equivalent. Personally I prefer a dog to be off the lead throughout all criminal work exercises although this is not a requirement in the Prison Service Trials Schedule. Whether on or off the lead neither the handlers or dogs can be criticised. Again they all chased in an extremely determined manner and the ‘stop’ and detention of the criminal was equally as determined. Control once again was excellent. The chase exercise was followed with a search and escort.

The ‘Recall’ again a repeat of the chase was fairly lengthy. The last exercise and following the determined stick and gun attack, the very long chase, the dogs by now were on edge. The dog was recalled at about 100 metres. I did not see any dog fail this exercise and the majority of dogs came back on the first command. It was an incredible performance by the Prison Service Dog Section and like all other exercises a pleasure to watch. The set an extremely high standard.

As an invited guest it is always a pleasure to attend these trials. I think the Prison Service are setting and maintaining every year a very, very high standard. There has been the Foot and Mouth which has restricted training. These tests are not made easy, the standard is either maintained or in the case of the recall and send away it improves every year. The search for person was much better this year than last and I am sure that this was noted by the officers in charge last year and the improvement was very evident. The two exercises, the recall and the send away I understand are once again to be included in Police Dog Trials. This now reasonably perfected performance by the majority of dogs from the Prison Service should be noted.

The venue, the Prison Service College is ideal for this type of event with many acres of well kept park and woodland. The lay out for the final day with a spectacular floral display was a credit to the college ground staff. The weather was also very kind. The cheerful and extremely helpful stewards advising and other people supplying coffee, tea and biscuits was really appreciated. The head of the Prison Dog Service Steve Allen and his Senior Officers were always at hand to answer questions. An overseas visitor and observer was Commission Want Guo-Feng from the Chinese Police Dog Training School in Shenyang, China.

The culmination was the Presentation on this the 31st National Prison Service Dog Trial attended by the Director General Martin Narey.
George Grayson

Results were as follows:

Winner & National Champion for the third year running with increased marks Officer D/H Ian Fletcher, H.M.P. Whitemoor with his German Shepherd Dog “Maverick”, 690 marks from a possible 750.

2nd Place Officer D/H. R Liggins, H.M.P. Frankland with his German Shepherd Dog “Kramer” with 618 marks.

3rd Place Officer D/H C McCann, H.M.P. Long Lartin with his German Shepherd Dog “Chimo” with 604 marks.


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