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Prisons: Drones

Volume 651: debated on Tuesday 18 December 2018

Preventing drones from going into prisons is, of course, a huge priority. First, that means working to identify and catch the criminal gangs who are flying them in; secondly, it means electronic measures to interrupt the drones and make it possible to interrogate those people; and, thirdly and most fundamentally, it means protective security. For example, Mr Speaker, if there is a good grille on the window, you cannot stick your hand out of the window and take the drugs from the drone.

Drug use in prisons frequently fuels serious violence, but those who fly the drones or throw the drugs over the walls often receive little more than a ticking off. What more can be done to dissuade people—especially young people— from such behaviour?

I know that my hon. Friend does wonderful work with the prison in her constituency. As she says, we need to take action, and we are taking action. There have been 40 convictions of people using drones, and we have imposed 140 years’-worth of prison sentences. No one should be in any doubt that importing drugs into prisons with a drone is a very serious crime, and I am pleased to say that, thanks to the Department’s work since 2015, we are getting on top of the problem.

The Minister mentioned in July and re-emphasised today the importance of jamming equipment in prisons; how many prisons have that equipment?

First, that is classified information, but, secondly, the answer is not that many prisons. It is very expensive equipment to use, but we are looking at an electronic fencing technique which has been deployed in Guernsey. We can learn a lot from Guernsey prison: if that electronic fence in Guernsey works, it is a good cheap solution. We would need to check its technical specifications and then we could look at rolling it out.