Prison bosses hope inmates looking after ducks will help them turn their back on gang culture


‘It’s quackers!’ Prison bosses hope letting inmates look after therapy ducks will help them turn their back on gang culture

  • HMP Dovegate has introduced the pets as a therapy tool for troubled prisoners 
  • Report said prison had ‘exceptional’ grounds and ducks were well looked after 
  • Inmates can also enjoy an assistance dog training scheme and in-cell yoga 

Prisoners are looking after therapy ducks to help them go straight and turn their backs on gang culture.

HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire introduced the waterfowl as part of its Pet Assisted Therapy scheme to encourage prisoners to stop reoffending. 

The four ducks, which came from a local rescue centre, are not the only meditative tool that has been introduced at the Serco-run facility. 

Inmates at the Category B facility can also benefit from in-cell yoga and chess, a choir, and plots to grow vegetables and flowers. 

A staff member introduces the therapy ducks, which are part of HMP Dovegate’s Pet Assisted Therapy programme

The Muscovy ducks came from the Freshfields Farm Animal Rescue Centre in Liverpool in October 2020

The Muscovy ducks came from the Freshfields Farm Animal Rescue Centre in Liverpool in October 2020

A report from the Independent Monitoring Board said the prison had ‘exceptional’ grounds. 

‘The prison has well-maintained and attractive gardens, with productive vegetable and flower growing areas.’

The report adds that the grounds are ‘exceptional, with ponds and ducks cared for by prisoners’.  

It concluded that the Muscovy ducks had been well cared for during Covid lockdowns. 

A source told The Mirror that the ducks had been treated as a joke.

‘At first we thought it was a joke. One of the ducks has even been named Crispy. Someone out there must be having a laugh.’

The ducks were named by the children of staff working at the prison and are named Marvin, Albert, Fire-quacker and Crispy.  

But some think that duck therapy is truly ‘quackers’. 

Kevin Moore, former head of CID at Sussex Police, said: ‘Prison is a place for punishment and hopefully some rehabilitation. 

‘I don’t see how duck therapy is going to make things any better.’

The prison also allows prisoners to help rehabilitate and train dogs to become assistance animals and family pets

The prison also allows prisoners to help rehabilitate and train dogs to become assistance animals and family pets

Wilba - the latest recruit - is named after William Wilbaforce, who headed the parliamentary campaign to end the slave trade in Britain

Wilba – the latest recruit – is named after William Wilbaforce, who headed the parliamentary campaign to end the slave trade in Britain

Other dogs from the Restart Dogs scheme have gone on to be family pets and assistance animals after being trained by inmates

Other dogs from the Restart Dogs scheme have gone on to be family pets and assistance animals after being trained by inmates

The prison has recently adopted a new puppy as part of its Restart Dogs scheme, which sees inmates train dogs as assistance animals. 

Wilba – the latest recruit – is named after William Wilbaforce, who headed the parliamentary campaign to end the slave trade in Britain. 

Andy Johnson, Serco Prison Director at HMP Dovegate, said: ‘We’re delighted that this very positive IMB Report highlighted that we provide lots of animal related activities such as the ducks in the garden and the Restart Dogs project, which provide prisoners with purposeful activities and help support rehabilitation.’

Successful graduates of the rehabilitation scheme become family pets and assistance dogs. 

Similar animal therapy schemes have been run at HMP Swaleside in Kent, where inmates had access to therapy goats.  

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