.When drones first came into the public eye they were viewed as a novelty. Indeed, they are currently used to do all sorts of useful tasks. However, drones, their place in our society and how they are used has become a hotbed of debate. Many inventions were devised with good intentions and have brought misery and tragedy upon humanity. Drones and contraband in prison have become a familiar connection.
Whether it has been a pesticide that has caused illness and death or a medical breakthrough that has turned out not to be such a breakthrough. New ideas and concepts are greeted with much interest and even more enthusiasm, only for it to wear off as we suddenly discover the dark side of our human nature.
Drones and contraband
Drones have been no exception. In the same fashion that inventions and developments that have been created for the good of our society, the bad elements have found an application for drones too. Unsurprisingly the ease with which these little machines have changed the lives of law enforcement and estate agents alike, so the lives of criminals have enjoyed the same convenience.
Current technology doesn’t suffice
Suddenly the logistics of x ray machines, locked gates, strip searches and access control to prisons have become moot. Why bother with all this tech when a remote controlled drone can simply fly over a prison wall, drop or deliver the contraband and then return to its origin?
A global issue
The problem is not unique to the UK. Prisons in the USA are having to deal with the same issue. Each state has to address this individually bringing with this process a plethora of new problems. The use of drones in prisons worldwide has become a public issue over the last two years as we become aware of their use through news agencies and government reports.
A slippery slope
While the delivery drugs are certainly the core problem, the complexities involved in controlling drone use has become a slippery slope. The ease with which hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine can now be delivered to prisons has led to the infiltration of mobile phones, cash and porn as well as other items that represent usable currency in the rehabilitation system. Initially the authorities thought that they would be dealing with only one problem. The problem has unfortunately grown exponentially.
Of course, some prisoners have exceptional resources outside the walls that contain them. The real problem is presented by those that control the drones on the outside. While military property has been protected under legislation that enables the destruction of anything that presents an incursion prison property has not enjoyed the same protection. This issue is no longer being ignored as members of the public, their MPS, prison bosses and the police have started to seek formal solutions to the problem.
Naturally invoking legislation to criminalise the incursion of drones into prisons and secure publish establishments will not automatically stop the drones and contraband. It does however provide a pathway to managing the problem. What the government does to deal with this, must also be legal. Taking into consideration the rights of the free and law abiding citizen as well is paramount. Criminals who use drones to get drugs and other contraband into prisons will more than likely ignore the law. Legislation would however deliver an impact in reducing this kind of crime. Additionally it would influence the cumulative domino effect that it brings with it. The passing of legislation will enable the implementation of strategies to protect prisons and other government property. This, while still protecting the rights of ordinary law abiding people that simply go about their daily lives.
Additional drone defence strategies
There are however other things that can be done. An excellent example is a drone defence system called Sky Fence that has been installed in a prison in Guernsey. This system involves using a drone jamming method that disables the on board computer of any drone that tries to penetrate the prison walls. This strategy is a first and will hopefully lead to implementation as standard in prisons across the UK.
Some prisons believe that a drone detection system will adequately suffice against drones and contraband. These detection systems will still require manpower and labour intensive secondary response. With combining a drone detection system, it appears that drone jamming is the way forward.
The battle has commenced
Precedent has already been set with a sentence handed down for the smuggling of over £48000 worth of drugs into a prison in the South of England. The department of justice has set up a specialist drone unit which forensically examines seized drones. They then track down the operators. Drones and contraband are finally being addressed as a serious issue.
The question of course is whether enough is being done to deal with the problem. Criminals are creative at finding ways around new obstacles created by law enforcement. What we do know is that doing nothing would be an invitation for anarchy.