Smuggling fears as TEN drones fly into prisons carrying phones drugs and cameras
Ten drones have crashed in jails in SIX months – sparking fears of a smuggling boom.
The hi-tech flying machines have been found inside or just outside sensitive medium security prisons.
Jail experts fear they have been used to smuggle mobile phones, drugs and other contraband behind bars.
They can also be used for surveillance to work out smuggling routes or to plan an escape.
A Sunday People investigation has revealed the growing threat of the drones.
Internal Ministry of Justice documents show that just two weeks ago, a drone equipped with a camera was discovered inside Liverpool jail.
An document states: “At approximately 5.15pm in the grounds adjacent to I Wing a crashed drone was found.
“It was equipped with a camera. The camera has been handed to the police.”
Glyn Travis, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers Association said: “The use of drones to evade security has reached an all time high.
“It is an extremely worrying development as drones are inexpensive, easily accessible and you don’t have to be a fighter pilot to fly one.
“They are used to transport contraband or as reconnaissance vehicles, looking for weaknesses in security.
“At a time of cost cutting and reduced staff numbers, it is hard to deal with this new threat.”
In July, a drone with a camera sparked a security scare at Whatton jail, Nottinghamshire.
It came down inside the 841 capacity jail – Europe’s biggest prison for sex offenders.
On alert: Drones are being found in prison grounds
A memo stated: “A crashed helicopter drone, with a camera attached, was found in the grounds of C3 Unit by staff. It was taken to security.”
A month earlier, a drone was found crashed outside Swansea jail. A parcel attached to it contained a mobile.
An eyewitness saw a man driving away from the category B jail. He found the drone.
South Wales police were able to trace the driver and he was arrested.
In March, a drone packed with drugs, phones and a knife was flown into Bedford prison.
It got stuck on razor wire protecting the jail.
The device was a Chinese made DJI Phanton 2 Vision model, with a wide-angle camera, costing £900.
Seven drones were found in the four months to May.
The new finds mean ten of the remotely-controlled devices have been found in just over six months.
Incidents include THREE at HMP Onley, Warwickshire, involving attempts to smuggle drugs.
Drone use is strictly regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority.
However, devices can easily be bought on the Internet for as little as £13.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “The use of drones over prisons has nothing to do with staffing levels.
“These incidents are rare and anyone caught using them in an attempt to smuggle contraband into prisons can expect a sentence of up to two years.”
Just last week at Norwich jail, staff found a crashed drone near the X-ray visits hut.
Officers searched the perimeter of the category B prison but could not find the operator.
The incident is the subject of an investigation – but had no contraband on board.