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

Entangled techno-mule was supposed to drop gear and phone for locked-up crims

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 spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police told London's Daily Telegraph.

"Both the device and the contents of the package are currently being examined, and investigations are on-going to identify the offender. We are working closely with the prison to investigate this incident."

The drone, a DJI Phantom 2 quadrocopter with about 25 minutes flying time, was spotted caught on wire around the prison's walls by guards, and was quickly retrieved. It was found to contain a number of Class-A (Schedule One) drugs, several smartphones, and a screwdriver.

"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.

"Whoever was flying it obviously needs a bit more practice as they've crashed it into the top of the wall, but it's put everyone on high alert that this is something that could happen again."

The 500-prisoner Class-B prison houses less-serious offenders, and smuggling has reportedly been a problem for many years. Usually contraband is thrown over the wall and grabbed a little later, but it's clear some convicts are getting high tech – although belatedly compared to the rest of the world.

Drones have been used to deliver contraband to prisoners in the US for years. Similar failed attempts have also been made in Ireland and Australia.

It may well be that drone deliveries have worked in British prisons before and no one spotted them. Nevertheless, prison authorities say they are keeping their eyes peeled for further attempts. ®

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