Parents of young man who died from drug addiction donate dog to Lancashire Police
A couple whose son died from a drugs overdose 26-years-ago hope they can save another life with the gift of a drugs search dog.
Nigel Jackson was just 26 when he died on June 30 1991.
More than a quarter of a century on, his parents, Norma and Brian, who live in Hambleton, are continuing their campaign against narcotics.
Having spoken to hundreds of school children and college students since Nigel’s death, the couple are now taking their fight to the front line.
They have donated a search dog to Lancashire Police.
Jac, named after the family, is currently undergoing training and could be on the beat by December this year.
Brian, now 80, believes if just one life is saved during the Springer Spaniel’s working life, the investment will have been worth it.
He said: “This was a big decision for us.
“We have been campaigning for a long time, speaking to young people, trying to get the message out there.
“Jac will be out there, working to catch the pushers.
“If he can take one pusher off the streets, if he can save one life, it will have been worth it.
Norma, 79, said: “We want to help the police in any way we can
“Nothing is going to bring our son back.
“We could sit here and mourn, and wear black and talk about it.
“But we’ve chosen to do something, to do some good from this.
“It will be a legacy for Nigel.”
Norma says the decision to donate Jac, who was bred just a few hundred yards from the couple’s home, was a simple one.
And she’s been amazed by his progress since joining the police training programme
She said: “I’m not a dog person, if we’re telling the truth.
“But he’s brilliant.
“I watch a lot of police programmes and the dogs are amazing.
“They are so clever.”
Brian said: “Jac will be trained as a search dog, to detect drugs, cash and firearms.
“Those are all things that could potentially identify a dealer.
“We have already been to see him training and it’s quite incredible.
“They hid a ball in a room and let him loose.
“He was looking everywhere and within a minute had found it.
“Hopefully he will have what it takes.”
The couple believe helping police in the search for drugs will, in the modern world, be a far more effective weapon.
Norma said: “The message just doesn’t seem to be getting through.
“It’s become normalised, it’s become acceptable
“You see it on Coronation Street these days.”
Lancashire Police’s search dogs go through an intensive training programme and only the best are taken through the scheme.
First the dogs learn to hunt for a tennis ball in a variety of situations.
Then they are trained to associate scents with the ball.
Dog trainers hide the dogs’ favourite toys in breeze blocks along with the scents they want to train the dogs to detect.
Trainer Paul Baker explained: “It is all reward based.
“The dogs love to play, they want to find their balls.
“We train them to detect a range of scents from drugs to firearms to cash.
“We’re now training them to detect Spice which is the latest big problem.
“Jac is fantastic, he has that enthusiasm and he’d making great progress.
“We are so grateful to the Jacksons.
“They are a fantastic couple and have already met Jac.”
As well as training dogs to search for narcotics and weapons police have a number of other specialist search dogs.
Some animals are trained to detect blood and semen and work alongside forensic teams.
Other animals are specialist ‘digital recovery’ dogs and specialise in finding hidden hard drives, data cards, mobile phones and sims.
‘We’re still looking for a new dogs’
Lancashire Police is still on the lookout for dogs to be gifted to their search team
A spokesman said: “We are still looking for a number of dogs to join our team.
“The dogs will be used as search dogs so must be ball mad and be around 10 months to two years old and of small or medium build. “We are looking for dogs to be gifted to us, so once we are satisfied they have got what it takes they would not return home. Maybe you have a hyper spaniel or crazy lab that you are struggling to keep as a pet?
“Give us a call for more information on (01772)412191 or (01772)412335.
‘Addiction can happen to anyone’
Nigel was buried on July 4 1991 after a long battle with drugs.
It was a fight which left a long term mark on the Jackson’s, who lost their only child after a slow descent into addiction.
But they never stopped loving him, no matter how chaotic his life became.
Norma said: “There was not a nicer boy when he was not on the drugs.
“What he became, it was difficult.
“I still loved him, but he was completely changed.”
Brian explained the lengths to which Nigel would go to get his fix and how he would be found by police bloodied and battered.
He said: “Once I had to try to pin him down in the bedroom.
“I told him if he went out he’d be back in a police van within half an hour.
“He jumped out of the window and staggered away.
“The police had him back with us within half an hour, just as I’d said.
“We had many dealings with the police, we never had any complaints.
“They were doing their job and did it with the greatest courtesy.”
Brian recalls another time he was called to an incident in central Blackpool involving Nigel.
He said: “He was found at the junction of Cornonation Street and Hornby Road.
“He’d been attacked and his face was covered in blood.
“I said I would drive him to the Victoria Hospital but it was so bad, the officer said my car would be covered in blood if I did.
“They took him in their car, I followed behind but because of the urgency, I couldn’t keep up.”
Norma said: “I remember taking him for a hearing at Preston Crown Court and he broke down crying in the stairwell of the car park.
“He knew he was going to prison for what he had done.
“You could see the fear.”
Living with an addict could often be difficult, the Jackson’s forced to be honest about Nigel’s problems.
Norma said: “You would have friends come round and you’d take their coats off them, to be stored in another room.
“You would have to ask if they had anything valuable.
“I would have to take my handbag with me when I moved from room to room.
“The thing with an addict is first they will sell what they have to feed their addiction.
“Then they will steal from families.
“When they have nothing left they move on to neighbours and beyond.
“As a parent you don’t ever want to see your child do that, but they are still your baby.”
Norma was clear about the impact of addiction on her son.
She said: “He was still a very loving person.
“But he had more sense at 14 than he did when he was 26.”
Nigel was an Arnold School pupil and went on to study electronics at Blackpool and The Fylde college, dropping out as addiction took hold.
The Jackson’s say his story proves addiction doesn’t discriminate and rubbishes many people’s common misonceptions.
Norma said: “I remember being at a school where a detective gave a speech.
“He called addicts the lowest of the low.
“I told him after I couldn’t agree.
“It isn’t just people from poor backgrounds, it can happen to anyone.”