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. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022