A Channel Island prison has become the first in the world to use a new system designed to stop drones smuggling drugs, weapons and other contraband over perimeter walls.A group of British companies has collaborated to install a comprehensive perimeter protection package at Les Nicolles Prison on Guernsey, including the new “Sky Fence” technology.
It creates a 600m shield around the prison to detect remote-controlled drones, then uses a series of ‘disruptors’ – sensors to jam the drone’s computer – to block its frequency and control protocols and divert it back to where it came from. Drones have become a major security problem in Britain’s prisons and are increasingly used to smuggle in drugs, weapons, phones and other valuables.
Perimeter fence disruptors
Les Nicolles has ordered around 20 disruptors on the perimeter fence line and within the jail. Sky Fence is the creation of British companies, Drone Defence and Eclipse Digital Solutions, while steel fencing manufacturer Zaun and Coventry-based PIDs business Harper Chalice have also supplied product installed by the UK’s premier prison perimeters installer Binns Fencing.
Prisoner governor, David Matthews said: “This is the first time this technology has been used in any prison anywhere in the world. I would like to see it adopted in other UK prisons because it has become a significant problem. This is about prevention.”
Nottingham-based company Drone Defence has worked on the idea in the past year. Founder and CEO Richard Gill said: “It disrupts the control network between the flyer and the drone. The drone then activates return to home mode and it will then fly back to the position where it had signal with its flyer. Someone described it as the final piece in a prison’s security puzzle. I think it could have a significant worldwide impact.” Eclipse managing director Alan Drinkwater said they had modified existing technology to create Sky Fence.
The new system in Guernsey is part of a £1.7 million security upgrade that also includes new cameras, new fencing and sensors, a new lighting system and new alarms. A multi-use games area for prisoners has also been set out within the walls.
Les Nicolles is a mixed category prison which holds both men and women, young offenders and adults, and has a capacity of just 139. It opened in 1989 and its population has fallen to an all-time low in recent years. It is independent of the mainland prison and justice system and is run by the State of Guernsey.