Violent prisoners who wreck cells are being given a dog to stroke to control their rage.In a new Government initiative to help young offenders, the pedigree dog called Barney will be taken into a notorious jail to relax inmates.The Pets As Therapy programme is being pioneered at Her Majesty’s Prison Hindley, a young offenders’ institute which has been home to a number of violent criminals, including Sean Mercer, the killer of 11-year-old Rhys Jones.
A source at the prison said: ‘The kids in here regularly go mad, smashing up their cells. This is seen as an answer. Pets, and dogs in particular, are known to make people calmer.’But last night Tory candidate David Davies condemned the plan as ‘utterly ridiculous’.He said: ‘This just proves that this Government has made a dog’s breakfast of the penal system. Why is it that criminals are not simply locked up?
‘Why is that we give them PlayStations, DVDs, televisions and now pedigree dogs to keep them entertained while the victims are left to pick up the pieces of their lives?’Barney, a black-coated Bouvier des Flandres dog, is undertaking specialist training to cope with life behind bars.He will roam the jail, near Wigan, Greater Manchester, under the supervision of a prison worker.Stroking the pet and enjoying its companionship is intended to ease anxiety and it is hoped he will also encourage feelings of affection.