If you’re involved in the drone industry as a retailer, developer, commercial operator, or even as an enthusiast, then you will know of all the incredible benefits and pleasure that drone flight can provide. However, there are some out there who choose to use drones for more nefarious purposes, including using devices to smuggle contraband into prisons in the United Kingdom.
As with any new technology, criminals have found ways to put drones to ill-intentioned purposes, and UK law enforcement, along with the MP Prison and Probation Service, have formed a new group tasked with examining drones that have been used to illegally bring items or communications into prison facilities.
Drugs, messages, and other materials can be smuggled into prisons with today’s drone technology, and there are already numerous examples of this occurring in the UK.
A High Profile Case Led to the New Team
The most recent and so far the highest profile case involving a drone on prison grounds has just been processed by the courts, and resulted in the imprisonment of two individuals.
Romaine Gayle and Remo White-Channer were found guilty of attempting to smuggle contraband into prisons, with the total value of the items estimated at almost £50,000. For their crimes, the two face up to six and a half years in prison. Prison and law enforcement officials recovered heroin, marijuana, and a type of synthetic cannabis known as spice. The pair also attempted to smuggle phones into facilities in Southern England, South East England, and East Anglia.
The conviction sends a strong message to would-be drone operators who would seek to use UAV technologies for criminal purposes. Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah was quoted saying that he intends to send a message to criminals that “we will find you and put you behind bars”.
The new unit will use intelligence from within the prisons, as well as evidence collected from downed drones, to identify operators or pass on relevant information to other agencies.
The move can be seen as an important step in increasing order within the prison system, where the government has recently invested £3 Million into addressing organized crime behind bars.
Retailers and Drone Groups Should Remain Vigilant for Signs of Criminal Activity
Suspicious persons inquiring about drones or buying new devices should be treated with caution, and a report can be made to local law enforcement if anyone in the drone community believes a person or group to be operating a UAV with criminal intent.