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Prisons: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 206453, tabled on 8 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the oral contribution of the hon. Member for South West Norfolk, 6 December 2016 on Prison Safety, Official Report, column 95, what assessment he has made of (a) the effect of the use of patrol dogs barking to deter drones, (b) how many prisons use this method and (c) at what cost to the public purse.

Answered on

15 January 2019

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) uses dogs in a variety of roles, such as searching for drugs and other illicit items and for patrolling. Patrol dogs are deployed in various ways including at the perimeter of prisons, to deter and disrupt individuals from illegal activity such as throwing contraband over the perimeter or piloting drones over the prison. In the course of these duties, patrol dogs may also hear drones being used and alert their handler. However, dogs are not deployed specifically for this purpose and therefore there are no associated costs.

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. Prisons that experience high numbers of drone incursions are receiving a wide range of support, including prison-specific vulnerability assessments and joint policing operations to arrest drone operators. We are also using physical counter-measures, including netting and window grilles.