To keep contraband out of prisons, the United Kingdom wants drones out of the sky.
The nation announced a new “squad” on Monday that will trace captured drones back to their owners – something like a group of detectives.
Working with “national law enforcement agencies and HM Prison and Probation Service,” the new squad will try to match captured drones with their owners so they can figure out who is trying to smuggle drugs, cellphones and other items over prison walls. Smugglers used drones to get contraband over prison walls 33 times in 2015 compared with just two times in 2014 and none in 2013, according to the Press Association.
UK police have thrown drone smugglers in jail for several years after recent convictions. Two men were jailed for six and four years at the end of March after using drones in an attempt “to flood prisons across Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Kent” with around $60,000 worth of heroin, marijuana and other drugs. Late last year, 21-year-old Dean Rawley-Bell found himself serving a nearly five-year sentence for using a drone to try to sneak drugs and phones into a Manchester prison. Last October, 23-year-old Renelle Carlisle was thrown in jail for more than three years after police found a drone in his bag by a prison in Warrington, where he had been trying to use the device to get drugs inside.
“My message to those who involve themselves in this type of criminal activity is clear,” Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said in a prepared statement. “We will find you and put you behind bars.”
Prison officials in the United States have also become aware of contraband entering their facilities from the sky. Some prisons in the U.S. have taken to installing sensors that listen for the soft whir of a drone motor. Upon hearing those subtle sounds, the sensor sends an alarm to officials, who know to be on the lookout.
Police in the U.S., however, do not yet have an anti-drone squad.