Flying drone used to smuggle drugs into prison

Inmates at Bedford Prison could be receiving drugs, mobile phones, knives and other objects carried by flying drones, after staff saw a miniature remote-controlled aircraft get stuck in the high-security prison’s perimeter barbed wire. Nobody knows whether previous flights had been successful.

The Chinese-made DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone, which weighs 2.5 lbs (1.33 kg) and has a range of half-a-mile, was carrying drugs, a mobile phone, screwdrivers and a knife. The attempt to fly the goods in over the prison walls occurred during the night.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said both the drone and the contents of a package were being examined during an ongoing investigation. “We were called to reports that a small drone had been discovered alongside a package at HMP Bedford at 11.30pm on March 6,” he added.


The DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone, the type used in the prison smuggling attempt, can be bought online for about £750. (Image: Alaska Video Shooter)

This is the first time a flying drone has been found trying to smuggle goods into a British prison, according to the Police.

Prison guards say their greatest challenge today is preventing the smuggling of unauthorized substances and goods into UK prisons, according to HM Inspectorate of Prisons.


Nobody knows yet how the parcel would have been passed onto an inmate. Perhaps the plan had been to pilot the drone to a cell window where a prisoner could reach out and grab the package.

Police concerned about drones

The police, who are becoming increasingly concerned, say they want to be given powers to seize miniature aircraft if they suspect they are being used for illegal activities.

The drone used in this smuggling attempt, which occurred two weeks ago, is fitted with a wide-angle camera and can be purchased online for about £750.

The Mail quoted Adam Bailey, from the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, who said:

“It’s a pretty stupid way of trying to get stuff into a prison. A drone sounds like a swarm of bees and has flashing lights so you’re likely to attract attention. You’d have to be very skilled to pull this off and these guys clearly weren’t.”

Drones used for prison smuggling in US and Australia

In July last year, a drone crashed into the walls of the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina, US, while attempting to smuggle marijuana, tobacco and phones.

In an interview with Reuters, Stephanie Givens, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Corrections, said:

“The technology is getting better, and we have to figure out different ways to fight back (regarding the smuggling problem).”

In February 2014, Australian police intercepted a drone they said had been trying to deliver drugs to inmates at a Victorian prison. Police responded after receiving reports that a done was flying near the prison.

They found a car parked near the prison with a man and woman inside who they believed were operating a four-engine drone.