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Prisons: Unmanned Air Vehicles

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 268997, tabled on 25 June 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made in the past year in combating the use of drones to supply illegal drugs to prisoners.

Answered on

1 July 2019

We are taking decisive steps to tackle the use of drones as a supply route for organised criminals to bring contraband, including drugs, into prisons.

Prisons use netting and window grilles to stop drones from delivering contraband successfully. To deter criminals, HM Prison and Probation Service is also working closely with the police to arrest suspected drone operators and secure convictions. Thanks to such joint working, and following the largest investigation of its kind, an organised criminal gang of 15 were collectively sentenced in October 2018 to nearly 40 years in prison for using drones to deliver drugs into Merseyside prisons. The ringleader received a sentence of 10 years, the highest single sentence for drone-related activity to date.

Where contraband gets into prisons using a drone, our counter-measures assist us to retrieve them and frustrate further criminal activity. In respect of drugs, our Drugs Taskforce is working with law enforcement to restrict supply. It has also developed a national Prison Drug Strategy which was published in April to reduce demand for drugs and build recovery, as well as restrict supply. We have also invested £70 million to improve safety, security and decency in prisons, allowing us to fund new X-ray body scanners, improved searching techniques, phone-blocking technology and a financial crime unit to target organised crime group members operating in prisons.

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