Smugglers crashed a drone carrying drugs and phones inside Strangeways prison , the M.E.N. can reveal.
The damaged four propeller aircraft was found in a yard inside HMP Manchester.
It was carrying a parcel stuffed with drugs and mobile phones. Police and prison authorities are now investigating the incident. One former inmate said: “Drones have been used to get phones and drugs into Strangeways for about a year. It’s rife. Someone parks up outside the prison in a van with a drone with a camera on it.
“It goes up and over the wall and someone inside a cell just climbs up onto the radiator, opens the window and pulls the drone inside. He rips away the masking tape, takes the drugs, phones, chargers and whatever and then launches the thing again outside. It’s done in 30 seconds. None of the CCTV cameras is pointing at the sky. It’s like ordering a Chinese. It’s that easy. And it’s lucrative. A £20 bag of heroin is worth maybe £100 on the inside. A smartphone will sell for between £800 and £1,000.
“There are plenty of drugs and phones in prisons. In fact, with all the cuts, it’s easier to find a phone or drugs than it is a screw. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, told the M.E.N: “The use of drones is becoming quite common. Criminals will use any means what-so-ever to fund criminality inside the prison system.
“Technology likes drones allows criminals to drop contraband virtually onto a pedestal. A drone might cost £300 or £400 but there’s big money to be made. If it breaks, that’s just short change.”
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “A drone was successfully intercepted by staff at Manchester prison on Friday 6 November. All contraband was seized and handed to the police to investigate. We are strengthening our powers to ensure those found using drones to smuggle material into prison are punished.”
The Ministry of Justice is pushing for new legislation to make it illegal to land a drone in prison or to use a drone to drop in psychoactive substances such as ‘legal highs.'
Anyone using drones in an attempt to get contraband into prisons can be punished with a sentence of up to two years. The MoJ says it has a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to contraband in prison and works with the police and prosecutors to ensure inmates caught operating scams inside get more jail time.
By John Scheerhout - The Manchester Daily News/Nov. 9, 2015