back to article Drug drone not high enough: Brit lags' copter snared on prison wire

The first recorded attempt to smuggle drugs into a British prison using a drone has ended in failure – after the gear-bearing gizmo got tangled in razor wire. "We were called to reports that a small drone had been discovered alongside a package in netting above a perimeter wall at HMP Bedford at 11.30pm on March 6," a …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge

    Didn't this happen already?

    June, 2014 in Ireland

    It would pay to keep up on the news, as they seem to have both gotten tangled on the way in...

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Didn't this happen already?

      Those attempting this sort of thing are most often not among the more intelligent portion of the population.

    2. Danny 14

      Re: Didn't this happen already?

      "Didn't this happen already? "

      Did you read to the end? They linked their own story.

    3. Ralph B

      Re: Didn't this happen already?

      Presumably there might be previous / other drone deliveries that didn't fail, didn't get detected and therefore didn't make the news.

      These failures are likely the small tip of a very large iceberg of successful drone deliveries, that Amazon could feel inspired by.

    4. Andrew Moore

      Re: Didn't this happen already?

      The article does link to the attempt in Ireland. However:

      >"This is the first time I have heard of a drone being used to get banned items into a prison," a source

      >told the Brit newspaper.

      It would appear that the "source" does not follow international news...

  2. Stevie



    Time to top the razorwire with a twenty-foot tall ribbon of fine net held aloft by mighty barrage balloons of drone foilage.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      Time to call the RAF.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        Move the mess upwind and let the gin fumes bring it down, I say. Bah. Harrumph.

  3. Jim 59

    According to one report the plan was to hover outside a cell window while the inmate reched out to grab the booty. A seemingly hairbrained scheme likely to end with a crash or lost fingers, as well as immediate detection by the prison guards.

    Simply catapulting stuff over the wall seems like a better idea.

  4. Stevie


    Now I can hear Leonard Cohen droning (ahahahahaha) Like a drone, on a wire in Mr Brain.

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Serial numbers?

    Do these drones come with a manufacturer's serial number on the chassis? If they do I bet the crims in question were also too dumb to remove the serial number.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: Serial numbers?

      DJI do :-)

      "Michael Perry, a spokesman for DJI, says the company is discussing compulsory licensing with regulators. All its products have a serial number that can be traced, he says. But would a Chinese manufacturer like DJI co-operate on such a system with European governments? "We're an international firm. It does behove us to work together with industry regulators," he says."

  6. Bob Dole (tm)

    *shakes head*

    "Usually contraband is thrown over the wall and grabbed a little later" wtf??

    If they *know* contraband is being thrown over the wall why the hell do they even allow people to get that close? Or even, why don't they at least have cameras recording who is near the walls and see who picks the stuff up? Or even, have, you know, a FRIGGIN GUARD watching the wall?

    I'll ignore the idiot that manages to get a fairly expensive "drone" caught up in a small fence instead of just hovering a 100+ feet up in the air. Completely moron. But the whole "usually thrown over the wall and grabbed later" bit is completely baffling.

    Moron's on the inside, moron's on the outside and moron's ignoring the whole thing. Geez. Are they even sure that everyone is still accounted for in the prison? I mean, hell, if no one is watching the fence line then surely it'd be trivial for them to leave.

    Just wow.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: *shakes head*

      or a dog patrol occasionally before outdoor rec time. That being said, it is probably the minimum wage guards who are picking up the contraband plus the roll of money attached to it.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: *shakes head* @Bob

      Unlike the US, where prisons tend to be isolated outside population centres and can afford to have wide perimeters with more than one fence (at least that is what I see on US telly), in the UK, older prisons, many of them built in the Victorian era are often in towns or cities, where there is just no space to have a wide perimeter.

      It is often the case that there are public roads right next to the perimeter wall. Prisons such as these mean that it is impossible to prevent the public getting close enough to catapult small amounts of contraband over the wall. Here are the co-ordinates of HMP Bedford: 52.139530, -0.469831. Look at it the satellite image in Google Maps or something to see the problem.

      You might say that it is poor planning to have prisons in towns, but the UK is smaller and has a much higher population density than the US or many other countries. If prisons are built away from a population centre, first of all, there is a huge outcry about using precious green-field sites for prisons, and then if they do get built, a new population centre grows up around the prison, because people working in the prison tend to like living close to where they are working. The prison then has to expand because of the increasing prison population, so it tends to grow towards it's perimeter, using the space.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: *shakes head* @Bob

        If prisons are built away from a population centre, first of all, there is a huge outcry about using precious green-field sites for prisons, and then if they do get built, a new population centre grows up around the prison, because people working in the prison tend to like living close to where they are working.

        New prisons are built away from population centres.,-1.242744,1831m/data=!3m1!1e3

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: *shakes head* @werdsmith

          And yet, although Rye Hill is a more modern prison, it was originally built as a borstal in the 1960's when there was less opposition to this type of development. Since then, it's role has been changed more than once, probably with modifications added each time to make it more suitable for it's new purpose.

          It's always easier to get agreement to extend an existing facility like this than it is to build a new one from scratch.

    3. Martin

      Re: *shakes head*

      Moron's on the inside, moron's on the outside and moron's ignoring the whole thing.

      Morons. Not moron's. Really, that is pretty basic. I'd expect even a moron to get that one right.


    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: *shakes head*

      When I was a student in Exeter I regularly used to walk past the prison, often late at night while drunk. A couple of times I wandered past as someone was reeling stuff in through a window on the end of a bit of string, it looked like the bathroom windows looked straight out above the path next to the prison.

      Here's the alleyway.

  7. Andy Tunnah

    Logic dictates...

    ...that they wouldn't know if the first one had already happened, because it wouldn't be dictated.

    It's like the saying about the perfect crime, nobody would know about it because they never got caught.

  8. Mike 16

    Sometimes Low Tech is best

    In my day, the contraband got into the prison the old fashioned way. The guards brought it in. Also, it was a career-limiting move for other guards to let on they noticed. Or a health limiting move sometimes.

  9. Anonymous Blowhard

    Not surprising

    After all, modern smart-phones aren't quite as body-cavity-friendly as phones used to be...

    1. tony2heads

      Re: Not surprising

      especially if the phone catches fire while in the enclosed space

  10. paulc

    these are the stupid ones...

    the ones they've found...

    1. Danny 14

      Re: these are the stupid ones...

      yeah, they were using the drone as a diversionary tactic.

  11. Arachnoid

    Remote control

    Theres nothing to say that the drone was not being controlled by one of the inmates and his PAYG smart phone ran out of battery power at the critical moment.

  12. Sproing

    Smart Phones?

    Why the hell not a feature phone with a battery life worthy of the name, or is the lure of Facebook et al too strong ? It might also present some difficulties in status updates if the location service is enabled ...

    1. Terry Barnes

      Re: Smart Phones?

      I don't think there are many apps to fly drones available for feature phones.

      1. paulc

        Re: Smart Phones?

  13. Douchus McBagg

    so the problem is the open lid. ok. close it

    we should have plenty of thatcher era closed mines. shove in a few bunks, fill with crims, shut the door, job done.

    maybe even setup a barter system, of coal comes out, food goes in?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: so the problem is the open lid. ok. close it

      A net over the existing prison's courtyard would be easier.

  14. HAL-9000
  15. @acmtix

    SAM defence for prisons

    Maybe Surface to Air missile defence pods would be a good idea to fight the war on high tech smuggling or at least high powered NERF guns for guards to shoot the drones down.

  16. HamsterNet


    If anybody has been in T5 Heathrow and looked up you can see a clear air space from the low security to the post security sides of the building. A drone could easily carry anything over there. If its was launched quickly and quietly.

  17. JaitcH

    If they can Geo-Ban the White House ...

    DJI has the ability, when the GPS is enabled, to prevent their products from being flown in prohibited airspace as in Washington, DC. This also applies to many airports and BeiJing, etc.

    Since Cameron thinks he is a somebody the UK will no doubt send a long list of banned UK areas and demand that DJI enter them in their software. He wouldn't want pix of his Sammy all over the InterNet (nor would many of us).

    Since VietNam and China have ongoing disputes over China's peremptory theft of some islands in the middle of nowhere, DJI units are sold here without any restrictions whatsoever!

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