Drone Detection in Prisons

Owen Price | 22.02.2019

Drones dramatically increase the accessibility of a prison by the air.

As the drone industry continues to grow, drones are becoming more affordable and readily available all across the world with a recent report by PWC reporting that there could be as many as 76,000 drones operating within UK skies by 2030. As with many other new technologies there are both positives and negatives to drone technology and despite the large benefits of drone use in the right hands, inevitably they are sometimes misused with this presenting a real potential issue for UK prisons.

According to a recent article on the BBC website the amount of confiscated items in Scottish and Northern Irish prisons has increased from 9,600 items confiscated in 2014 to 15,000 confiscated in 2017. Although this can be attributed to many different avenues, the growth in drone use presents a direct route to getting contraband into prisons. The video below, from the BBC, shows a drone being used to smuggle contraband into Wandsworth Prison in London.

The video clearly shows a drone with a bag hanging from it containing the contraband which is then hooked and pulled in to one of the prison windows.

In an attempt to combat the growing issue a specialist squad of prison and police officers has been formed to tackle the threat drones pose to prison security and as of July 2017 there have been a total of 35 arrests and 11 convictions resulting in a total of more than 40 years of jail time. The below news articles describe cases involving Drones flying into prisons.

But what else can be done as this issue continues to take off?

Counter drone technology can be used to detect, identify and track drone use to mitigate the threat of contraband being flown over a prison's walls. In certain conditions the technology can also identify a pilots location, increasing the likelihood of them being apprehended.

Use of this technology could allow prisons to implement security procedures when a drone is identified to prevent contraband entering the prisons this way.