Smuggling Drones: The Rising Trend Plaguing Prisons

May 20, 2021 | CTX 2021, New Tech

Security and police are confronting increased numbers of smuggling attempts from ‘drug mule drones’ since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Incidents of drone involvement in drug drops at prisons have risen drastically in the news since the beginning of 2020.

Authorities have been caught off guard by the spike in recent incidents, not only due to a depleted workforce but because it’s a particularly difficult threat to tackle.

Drones are able to soar above the sight of security cameras and scanners and fly too high to trigger motion detection systems.

In Australia, Corrections Victoria is trying to combat a rise in the aerial smuggling of contraband and narcotics, since face-to-face visits were banned in March 2020. Drone reports at the jailhouse were up 246% since the previous last year. Security authorities are facing the same challenge around the world, as border controls are also fielding a higher number of drone invasions.

While the threat is rapidly evolving, it is not new. Drone detection experts Robin Radar Systems say that drones are uniquely capable of evading most security controls.

Siete Hamminga, CEO of Robin said: “Detecting a drone in airspace isn’t an easy task, especially as they become even more evasive to detection; smaller, faster and able to fly further for longer. 

“Commercial drones are easily accessible and can be adapted without too much difficulty for malicious purposes, such as the smuggling of contraband and narcotics.

“Only a few technologies are proficient in detecting active drones, and one of those technologies is purpose-built radar.

“Other methods include radio frequency, acoustic sensors and optical sensors. Most security authorities opt for a combination of these technologies to achieve the optimum insight and the ability to neutralise the threat, as well as to detect it.

“But for a prison, simply detecting a drone and tracking its movements is an opportunity for intel, establishing sources of smuggling within the prison and holding parties accountable.

“It’s a chance to gather insight and ultimately eliminate the root of the problem; which is not criminal drones, but criminals operating drones.

“Nevertheless, as the drone threat develops, security authorities will need to consider these issues in more depth.

Robin Radar exhibited counter-drone solutions on stand CT840 at CTX2021.

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