Prisons: Drones remain one of the most disruptive technologies of the last decade. Since they’ve come into the mainstream public eye, people have begun exploiting the technology and misusing drones.
However, it’s currently the prisons which are paying the highest price. We were recently on the BBC Morning breakfast show discussing the impacts of drones and prisons, and seeing exactly how bad things have gotten lately. To try and drive home the issue that prisons are coming up against, we’re going to look at some of the latest developments in the field.
Prisons, Drones and Drugs?
Prisons are secure units where people are confined for committing a crime. Communication and interaction with the outside world are restricted. Certain everyday items such as mobile phones, tobacco and cigarettes are prohibited or subject to restrictions, Other items such as drugs, shaving razors etc are obviously banned.
However, drones are helping to smuggle dangerous and often lethal substances into these establishments. Between 2016 and 2017, it was discovered that a team of men made 55 deliveries into secure units all across the country. They were ferrying drugs into the windows of cells and providing inmates with things they really shouldn’t have. The estimation is that £550,000 worth of drugs, most of which were in the Class A division, were provided to prisoners over the year in 5 different prisons.
Contraband is a significant problem for prisons. According to the Ministry Of Justice figures, the number of illegal substances smuggled in has risen significantly each year since 2014. and this has a knock on effect for the levels of violence and suicide rates in prison too.
Furthermore, the gang of people who committed this crime in the first place have been a massive cost to prisons and the budget for them. Out of all the crew who were responsible, seven were sentenced to time in prison and it’s been estimated that will cost the UK Taxpayer £735,000 in the first year alone. The average figures for punishing a prisoner is a staggering £65,000, and £40,000 in annual costs associated with keeping them in prison, which can be a massive drain on the budget for prisons all across the country.
Prisons: What Can Be Done?
As we said on our interview, the best possible solution is the SkyFence Fixed Drone Protection system. It is already operational in Guernsey Prison. This option serves as an electronic countermeasure system which protects prisons from drones by blocking the signals to the drones as they come near the prison. This is the sort of thing which will prevent crimes like this from happening again.
Overall, drones are taking a high toll on prisons and need to be stopped. It’s a technical problem that requires a technical solution, and one that can allow drone users to operate effectively and freely without putting others at risk or permitting misuse of drones. We have to recognise the dangers which can be caused by drones; otherwise, we’re never going to prevent these kinds of problems from occurring. A government-led initiative on drones might well be the way forward, with a technology rather than legislative focus, to make sure the drone cannot be misused.