Tech firms offered £7 million to stop drones being flown into prisons

(EveningStandard UK)– Tech firms are being offered a potential £7 million contract to stop drones smuggling contraband into prisons.

The Ministry of Justice has called for security experts to contact them with ideas on how to prevent inmates obtaining drugs, weapons, phones and other valuables from friends on the outside.

The widespread availability and falling price of drones has led to an increase in their use by gangs and exacerbated the chaos being wrought in jails by psychotic drugs such as Spice.

The situation has become so extreme that the Government last year launched an anti-drone team. Now, according to a tender highlighted by research group Tussell, the MoJ has issued a “prior information notice” to the security industry, inviting bidders to pitch anti-drone technology with a view to awarding contracts totalling £7 million.

A prison in Guernsey is currently testing the world’s first system that creates a “shield” around the jail of “disruptors”, which jam a drone’s computer.

It was created by Drone Defence, a technology company based in Covent Garden, which hopes to win work from the tender. Its founder Richard Gill, a former Army logistics officer, first realised the potential problems surrounding drones when he saw them used by the Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He said: “Our system is an extension of the perimeter fence. As soon as a drone is detected — good or bad — the electronic barrier goes up and keeps it out.”

Several drones have been intercepted outside Pentonville prison in north London under what the Metropolitan Police calls Operation Airborne. Charlie Adifiyi, 22, of Islington, was jailed for three years at Blackfriars crown court in November for trying to fly in a drone loaded with cannabis and phones.

In 2016 two prisoners who sawed their way out of their Pentonville cell were suspected of having tools smuggled in by drone. Last month a gang of 10 in Birmingham were sentenced for running a operation using drones to drop drugs and contraband into prisons across the Midlands and the North.

The four-hectare site of the disused Holloway prison, which is being sold off by the MoJ, will be half social housing after Islington council drew up new planning rules. Diarmaid Ward, cabinet member for housing, said: “Developers should take note — this council will not accept less than 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes on the Holloway prison site.”

Source:: EveningStandard UK

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