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Prisons: Unmanned Air Vehicles

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 198196, tabled on 3 December 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) confiscated drones and (b) persons prosecuted for the illegal use of a drone in the vicinity of a prison in the last two years.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

20 December 2018

We are taking decisive steps to tackle the use of drones as a supply route for organised criminals to bring illicit items such as drugs and mobile phones into prisons. These drone operators can be prosecuted for offences related to conveyance of items into prison under the Prison Act 1952. Last year we launched Operation Trenton, a specialist team of police and Prison Service investigators, to work together to intercept drones and track down the criminals behind them.

In 2016, 92 drones were recovered. In 2017, 73 were recovered.

In respect of persons prosecuted for the illegal use of a drone in the vicinity of a prison in the last two years, we do not hold this data centrally. However, we believe that at least 45 people have been convicted of illicit drone activity, with those sentenced serving a total of more than 140 years in prison. On 26 October 2018, following the largest investigation of its kind, an organised criminal gang of 15 were collectively sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison for using drones to drop drugs into a number of prisons. The ringleader received a sentence of 10 years, the highest single sentence for drone-related activity to date.

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