Person Dies In Car Crash After Police Pursue Suspected Drone Pilots

Drone activity around UK prisons continues to rise

Wandsworth Prison

Wandsworth Prison

Probably not a good place to fly drones.Derek Harper, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

How close to the drone, exactly, does a person have to be for their death to be “drone-related?” In the United Kingdom, police found a drone flying near a jail. They pursued a car, whose occupants were suspected of flying that drone, and then the pursued car crashed. The male driver is in critical condition; his female passenger is dead.

An HM Prison Service spokeswoman said: “On Tuesday 9 August, staff at HMP Wandsworth alerted the Metropolitan police to a drone flying in close proximity to the prison, as is standard practice. Police investigations are now under way and it would be inappropriate to comment further.” Authorities have grown increasingly concerned about the use of drones to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into jails. Figures obtained earlier this year by the Press Association showed that in 2013 no drones were discovered in or around prisons in England and Wales, but in 2014 there were two such incidents, rising to 33 in 2015.

Since the existence of prisons, people have attempted to smuggle things into them. Drones are the latest way to get stuff in. Drones are cheap enough that it's not a huge financial burden if they're lost. They're well suited to transport prison cargo, which tends to be small, light, and discrete anyway, so the normal weight limits on what a drone can carry don't really apply. The United Kingdom, which doesn't require registration for small drones, has seen a small trend of drone flights over prisons.

The lack of registration makes it hard to trace crashed drones to their owner. But drones can only fly so far, and their short ranges mean that pilots likely have to be nearby, perhaps sitting in a car close to the prison. We’ll know more as the investigation continues.

[via Gizmodo]