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Drones being used to deliver drugs, mobiles in UK jails

Britain has formed a specialist squad to investigate the phenomenon of drones being used to fly drugs and mobile phones into prisons.

world Updated: Apr 17, 2017 21:48 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
drones
File photo of villagers looking at an agricultural drone being used to spray pesticide on crops in China’s Shandong province on April 6, 2017. (AFP)

Drones are being considered for a wide range of deliveries by courier companies and online retailers, but the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles to fly drugs and mobile phones into British jails has prompted authorities to set up a specialist squad to deal with the problem.

The crackdown was announced on Monday, days after two offenders were collectively sentenced for more than a decade in prison for trying to fly packages containing cannabis, spice, heroin and cellular phones into three prisons in Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Kent.

Prisons minister Sam Gyimah said the specialist squad will inspect drones recovered from prisons to identify and track down those involved in attempts to smuggle in contraband.

“Crucially, this new set-up will investigate the specific drones use by individuals around prisons,” an official source said. 

Gyimah said: ‘We are absolutely determined to tackle the illegal flow of drugs and mobile phones into our prisons and turn them into places of safety and reform. The threat posed by drones is clear…

“My message to those who involve themselves in this type of criminal activity is clear: we will find you and put you behind bars.” 

The two offenders given the longest sentence of this type on March 31 were Remo White-Channer and Romaine Gayle, who were jailed for attempting to flood three prisons with contraband worth around £48,000. 

There have been previous convictions for similar offences.

In December, Dean Rawley-Bell, 21, was jailed for four years and eight months after he used a drone for attempts to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into a jail in Manchester.

Individuals have also been jailed for trying to fly contraband into jails in Warrington, Sheppey, London and Hemel Hempstead, sources said.