Prison Drones: The Evolving Threat of Contraband Smuggling

The Correctional Service of (CSC) is grappling with a growing problem: drones being used to smuggle into prisons. Guards say the illicit goods, including drugs and weapons, are fueling violence against staff, reports CBC. In response, the CSC is implementing a multi-faceted approach to combat the issue, but the union representing correctional officers argues more needs to be done.

Measures to Combat Drone Smuggling

The CSC says it's using a “layered approach” to tackle the problem, including:

  • Procuring drone detection equipment
  • Piloting a program using cellphone detection technology
  • Deploying body scanners and dogs trained to find electronic devices
  • Making “infrastructure enhancements” at prison facilities

However, the CSC currently lacks the “ authority” to use drone-jamming technology, though it's exploring the “legal processes and feasibility” of eventually using such tools.

Union Calls for More Counter Drone Action

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers held a protest in Abbotsford, B.C., to highlight what it says is a wave of violence driven by drone drops. John Randle, a regional president with the union, said a variety of anti- is “readily available,” but has yet to make it into the country's prisons.

Randle attended a trade show where he saw radar detection systems, rifles that fire pulses to disable drones, and technology that allows guards to take control of drones mid-air if they enter prison airspace.

A Global Problem

Canada isn't alone in dealing with drone smuggling. Prisons elsewhere in the world have been battling the issue for years. The U.K. recently passed a law prohibiting drones from flying within 400 metres of prisons, and research published by the U.S. National Institute of Justice in 2022 said evolving drone technology posed a “real threat to correctional facilities.”

“Despite innovations and sound correctional practices, novel and inventive methods are constantly being developed and employed by persons who are incarcerated and conspirators to smuggle contraband,” a technology brief published by the institute said.

As drone technology continues to advance, prisons are struggling to keep up. While the CSC is taking steps to address the problem, the union representing correctional officers says more needs to be done to protect staff and curb the flow of contraband. With companies developing new anti-drone products and governments passing laws to restrict drone use near prisons, it's clear that the battle against drone smuggling is far from over.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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