Enhancing prison security: New drone legislation

Jan 17 2024

Posted by Altitude Angel Insight

news main image Airspace remarks shown for HMP Wandsworth

In a pivotal move to fortify prison security, the UK government has implemented a new legislation that deems flying drones within 400 meters of any closed prison or young offender institution in England and Wales an automatic offence. The new restrictions, set to take effect from 25 January 2024, are designed to combat the escalating threat of drone-related criminal activities, particularly the smuggling of contraband into prison facilities. 

To support the implementation of these crucial measures, Altitude Angel's advanced drone flight planning solutions – Drone Assist, dronesafetymap.com, and Operator Portal – have updated to show the newly designated restrictions around UK prisons. This ensures that drone operators using Altitude Angel’s platforms will be able to clearly see the virtual 'no-fly zone' when planning.  The changes will be shown on the platform prior to 25th January to allow operators to plan their flights in advance. 

The legislation establishes a comprehensive 'no-fly zone' around prison airspace, allowing police and prison staff to promptly identify and respond to suspicious drone activities. This not only enhances security within the prison grounds but also significantly mitigates the risk of illegal filming within these high-security areas. 

Under the new legislation, drone operators found in violation of these restrictions may face fines of up to £2,500, while those caught smuggling illicit items could be subjected to penalties of up to 10 years in prison. The move comes as a response to the surge in drone sightings around prison facilities, posing a direct challenge to law enforcement and prison staff. 

The announcement on October 23, 2023, follows a £100 million investment to fortify prison security nationwide.  

In alignment with these efforts, Altitude Angel's drone flight planning solutions have become indispensable tools for drone operators. The proactive marking of prison restrictions ensures that users can visualise and plan their flights in adherence to the new legislation, promoting responsible drone usage and compliance with airspace regulations. 

The new legislation, supported by the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority, complements existing laws such as the Air Traffic and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021 (ATUMA). ATUMA grants police the authority to intercept or seize drones suspected of illegal activities, reinforcing measures outlined in the Prison Act 1952 concerning the use of drones for smuggling drugs and weapons. 

The proactive approach to marking virtual 'no-fly zones' around prisons reflects Altitude Angel's commitment to promoting responsible drone practices. By giving operators real-time information about restricted areas, our solutions play a crucial role in fostering a culture of compliance and safety within the drone community. 

As the regulatory environment evolves, Altitude Angel continues to be at the forefront of providing valuable tools for drone operators. Our commitment to enhancing the user experience, prioritising safety, and aiding compliance positions Altitude Angel's products as indispensable assets for navigating the complexities of a changing and modern airspace.  

Information correct at the time of publication 17 January 2024.

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