Prison using drones to help stop smuggling

| 25/09/2015 | 69 Comments
Cayman News Service

Adam Cockerill, Co-founder of AirVu with one of their small unmanned aircraft

(CNS): Small unmanned drones are now part of the tools used by the prison service to battle the practice of throwing drugs and contraband over the perimeter fence of HMP Northward, and it appears likely that they will also be used in the near future by the RCIPS, especially to help the Joint Marine Unit with search and rescue operations.

Supplied by local company AirVu, the small unmanned aircraft (SUAs), which are outfitted with cameras, can be very quickly deployed at the prison and used to identify the perpetrators hurling things over the fence before they run into the bush, according to Prison Director Neil Lavis.

The drones are also used to patrol the perimeter fence, and unlike humans, “they don’t get tired and don’t need a drink and don’t need a break”, Lavis explained, describing them as a “significant addition to fight crime” and saying that he is really pleased with the results so far.

He said that in Britain there have been news reports that criminals were using unmanned drones to try and smuggle contraband into the prisons there, so it seemed to him to be a good way to fight back against the same problem here – smuggling things into the facilities.

While none of the private or public officials involved would give details of how many drones are used at the prison or where they are deployed from, citing security concerns, Lavis said, “We are always trying to be on the cutting edge in the fight against drugs and contraband getting into the prisons.”

Commissioner of Police David Baines also indicated the strong likelihood that SUAs would be used by the RCIPS in several capacities and noted that they are used effectively in other jurisdictions.

Baines told CNS that one area where they may be particularly effective is in search and rescue operations and acquiring one for the Joint Marine Unit, to be kept on the back of an RCIPS vessel, is under consideration. He said that using SUAs is potentially very cost effective – a few hundred dollars per deployment in contrast to the RCIPS helicopter, which costs $1,500 to $2,000 per deployment.

Obviously, they cannot be used to pick people up or carry them in medical emergencies, so the chopper will still be necessary, but the drones can be fitted out with infrared equipment that could pick up body heat signals, “which is much better than eyeballs”, the CoP noted.

Another possible use is at scenes of a crime, where the SUAs could take aerial photographs soon after the incident, Baines said. For example, they could get pictures of the positions of the vehicles and victims and skid marks at a road crash, or entrance and escape routes at crime scenes, which could all later be used as evidence in a court of law.

He said the drones could also potentially be used in a hostage or siege situation, where the police need to see what is going on without endangering anyone. The SUAs could fly up to a window and get officers the best information about what’s going on, so if they have to go in they know where people are and where they’re going.

While the prison service has already purchased a so far unspecified number of SUAs, Baines said that there is a possibility that the RCIPS could make arrangements to use them as required now and later buy one when the need for this technology has been proven.

The commissioner said he was certain that drones would, ultimately, become part of the arsenal of the RCIPS for crime scene investigation, search and rescue and “storm in” situations.

Cayman News Service

TSC CEO Stuart Bostock shows Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and Premier Alden McLaughlin fingerprint recognition security

At the time the unspecified number of drones were purchased by the prison service, AirVu was the only regulated and CAA compliant small unmanned aircraft operator in the Cayman Islands, so there was no possible competition for the contract, the prison director noted.

The purchase was not made directly with AirVu but with The Security Centre, which subcontracts the drone company as part of the security package that TSC has with the prison service, which CEO Stuart Bostock said includes CCTV cameras and other technology tools that he declined to detail.

The Security Centre, which held its grand opening of their new high-tech facilities at Cayman Technology Centre on Thursday, has several security and crime fighting contracts with government, including managing the technical side of the National CCTV Programme, which now totals around 245 units, making sure they remain operational.

According to Commissioner Baines, this number may increase as private entities, such as hotels, partner with government by paying for cameras that will then be hooked up to the national network. In this way, the private camera would be added to the government system that would monitor the public street, including the hotel.

TSC also has government contracts to supply automatic card readers in some buildings, as well as supplying security staff at the Immigration Detention Centre, for the immigration department and at the Government Administration Building.

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Category: Crime, Police, Prison

Comments (69)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Auditor General should look into government contracts with The Security Center. Too many contracts, too much underperformance, too little encouragement of competition and value for money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brought to you by the folks who gave us CC cameras. Groan.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cool but where is the code of practice that aligns with the Bill of Rights for those of us in the area that are not criminals?

    • Anonymous says:

      All jokes aside. The Security Centre has a lock on any large project that the Government has and no matter how poorly the performance, they are allowed to expand. The list of non performance is grand………The Customs Xray , the Cctv that captures outlines or does not work, the Prison Cctv that was proven on a number of times to be inadequate, the fiasco at the Detention Centre, the burglary at the RCIP Central , ………..the list goes on. This and many either subcontracts or “partnerships” to avoid being named as the provider outright to avoid the tendering process is questionable at best, and appears at the very least, XXXXXXX as the performance level and service provided is not what the Government is requiring, but yet the growth continues unchecked. The next problem is the vast amount of control one entity has over the community in terms to our privacy

  4. Nando A Choo says:

    Yet another tool by our UK masters to invade peoples privacy!!!! that’s all

    • Anonymous says:

      Your deference to UK duly noted. Gold star for you and one more night to harvest all your ganja before we send the drone over your house tomorrow. Pip pip!

    • Anonymous says:

      Back in the day we used to send a gunship. Cutbacks I suppose.

    • Anonymous says:

      The theory about the high correlation between the use of multiple exclamation marks and the spouting of gibberish has found more supporting evidence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking of tools…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Are they using the same CCTV cameras UUmmmmmm, lol.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So cutting back the bush, installing additional lighting and cameras, with maybe a sweep by a sniffer dog before the inmates are let out, wouldn’t work then.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let us take an objective look at the decision. 1. Will these individuals expose their face to the camera on the drones.
    2, Will there be active monitoring and is the staff in place to respond to apprehend the culprits.

    3. Are we saying the cameras around the prison not working or not sufficiently good to capture these individuals that come up to the prison to bring drugs.

    4. What about the intruder detection system I read about in the paper. Will that not work?

    5. Finally how long will it take to deploy the drone and how long will it stay up?

    Was a proper analysi done to see if it would worth the investment? I think we need answers.

    By the way, can we know he quantity of drugs found in the prison and how many prisoners were tested for drug consumption and what is the cost of this investment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can I get my drugs delivered by drone too?

  9. *** PEGASUS *** says:

    All of you against this program or any other similar program are idiots and morons. We as a society are going towards a slow death, all because of the greed of wealth, drugs, rape, illegal activities and most of all criminality… We need this systems to protect ourself from criminals and morons that do not support change, exploration and betterment of humanity. You all need to realize that we all live on one planet, and until we can chose to move somewhere else, we ALL HAVE TO GET ALONG! Criminal, illegal activities and any other activity that does not confirm to a betterment of a society as a hole. It has been said before, that it is useless talking to people that do not support change or peace, so if you don’t like it leave! Here is an idea! Lets all create a continent where all criminals, and all idiots are sent to and isolated! At leas there they won’t be able to hurt any of our loved ones! Oh in case you were wondering, NO I AM NOT AFFILIATED TO ANY OF THESE PROGRAMS OR ANY COMPANY OR GOVT INVOLVED IN SUCH PROGRAMS. I AM JUST A SIMPLE PERSON BEING STUCK ON THIS ROCK WITH ALL THE LUNATICS!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      If drugs were legal then their use would not support the criminal network that concerns you so much.

    • Propeller Beanie Man says:

      One might think that a drone was best placed to drone on about other drones. But you have dispelled that theory.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If I so much as sniff a drone flying over my property, it will be destroyed. Leave people alone and go and find the criminals.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is too soft on its scumbag criminals. Too many woting relatives.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If the surveillance drones are allowed to shoot down the drug delivery drones, then the drug delivery drones will arm themselves and we could end up with aerial drone battles in Northward.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The rapid growth of the security services industry in the Cayman Islands is very disappointing.
    Our elected officials should be ashamed and embarrassed to be pictured alongside these “professionals” as well as announcing these contracts.
    This is nothing but confirmation that our standards are slipping and we have now dropped to the level of any typical western metropolis – gated communities et al.

    Lastly, this particular drone application is beyond ridiculous as rightly outlined by many posters before me.

    – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      Difference is there rest of the world does not have a Security Monopoly as we have in Cayman. These contracts are getting to the point that the rest of the industry do not even waste their time quoting on these contracts because you already know who is getting it. Also the statement that drones don’t need breaks etc…how stupid..they need recharging so yes they need breaks. They also need to be at the right place at the right time. I suggest using dogs..they can sniff them suckers out and keep them until help arrives…much more efficient.

  14. gray matter says:

    For the benefit of doubt, lets give them 4 months, then if drugs are still found in prison, the contract should be canceled and the security centre refund the full amount it was paid , to government.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Christmas time came early for prison guards this year. I can just see this now, kids with new toys, the drones won’t last 5 minutes. Whomever is insuring these things is also going to make a mint. Santa’s elves at Security Centre are laughing all the way to the bank having just sold the eskimos more snow.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why did the Security Centre have to get the contract if the drone company was already here in Cayman? Seems that company has access to everything.

    • Anonymous says:

      More access than we know. Good to see that the majority of the readers are reading between the lines. They will soon announce other, bigger plans that benefit only them.
      Martial state coming! If you are a submissive and easy to conform then you fit in with their plans.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Boys with toys.

  18. Anonymous says:

    You could label that priceless pic “Master and Puppets”.

    Who is the Master and who are the Puppets is not hard to figure out………

  19. Anonymous says:

    Love the part of how useful they would be in a hostage situation, because that happens all to frequently here. Of course a hostage taker seeing drone at the window would never think of shooting it down.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Another “cam scam” that the government is falling for. These drones only work for 15-20 mins at a time and require a skilled operator within line of sight. They are going to be paid more for the time prepping for flights and caring for the kit more than actually patrolling. SMH.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How about locking the criminals up in solitary 24/7 instead?

  22. Anonymous says:

    If the damn cctv cameras that are bolted to some pole every half mile on the road ain’t assisting with crime, then drones will as good as an albino hitching a ride in a snowstorm. Don’t know who got or will get the commission for this sale, but kudos to them as they have certainly pulled this one off using a magicians hat.

    • Fred says:

      magicians hat involves taking things out of a area no one can see into. This seems to involve people putting things into a similar place.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just wait till these things get taken out by the new “super yardie battle drones”.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope that drone use by our law enforcement authorities will be controlled by strict and strictly-monitored, transparent criteria. There is evidence that unauthorized surveillance currently occurs, i.e. electronic monitoring, just because they can. WHO IS WATCHING THE WATCHERS???!!!

    Cayman’s nasty public service/secret society underbelly is a scary entity to be in possession of 21st century tech!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I find the idea of the RCIPS or anyone using drones here truly terrifying. What happens to our privacy rights now? Or do we actually have any? Do we have the right to shoot one down if it’s hovering over our house?

      • ANonymous says:

        If you live nearby, perhaps you are watching too much porn and the drone will find you out or wha?

      • Big Brother says:

        Probably not given that pretty much anything that can hurl or fire a projectile is illegal under the Penal Code, from bows and arrows to slingshots.

        We already live in a police state, albeit (thankfully) one where the police are generally locked away in their offices and cars and do not have the slightest understanding of the extent of their powers.

  25. Ron says:

    Doesn’t someone have to fly the damn thing and I believe the pilot will have to have breaks i.e. Lunch, bathroom, etc.,,,gimme a break….someone is going to get a big fat cheque at the expense of the tax payers again!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again. This one security firm that seems to have such easy access to govt contracts. How is that?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Slowly, softly but surely, we are all being integrated into the digital collective. 15 years ago, Bill Gates wrote a book called, “The Road Ahead”. If you ever get in doubt where this is going, read it.
    I read it when it came out and let me put it in a nutshell.

    Every human being will be connected to the digital nervous system of the world in real time. (The Internet for the Luddites among us.)
    There will be no more cash. The global currency will be crypto in nature and will flow in real time. Every house will be connected and all data will be accessible by government and utility companies.

    Eventually, the Internet will become a medium for thought transfer and control.

    People that refuse to be integrated will be labelled as haters and hunted down to be re-educated or eliminated. Just have a read of 1984 by George Orwell.

    What bothers me personally is that so-called smart people suddenly become dumb and refuse to think for themselves. You get that glazed-eye look and the conversation changes to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or ‘American Idol’.

    Who is awake out there?

    • MM says:

      Yep… you have summed it all up perfectly… sadly all the robots still think they’re free-thinkers….

    • Anonymous says:

      This is Bible Prophecy from the Book of Revelation.

      The computer chip will be put into a person’s hand or their forehead and it will have all their personal info and bank account info in it. It will be used for buying and selling. Cash will no longer exist. Those who refuse to take this chip (the mark of the beast of the One World Order system) will be hunted down and executed or imprisoned or living in hiding. Christian’s and Jews are not allowed by God to take this “mark” or else they will be eternally condemned. This “chip” will also bring sores upon the bodies of people who have it implanted in them. (My guess for the sores would be from too much radiation going through the body because of it.)

      Wake up is right! The End draweth nigh! The Great 7 year Tribulation is upon us! Look up, Jesus is Coming Soon! Have faith and choose Jesus! Not the mark of the beast! Worship God and trust in Him only. Do not trust in man nor worship man. Worship God your Creator, listen to what He is saying. He has told you everything in His Bible Prophecies. He said you will know when the end is near by the signs of prophecies being fulfilled. He who has ears let them hear what God’s Holy Spirit is saying.

    • Sam says:

      Something like in the movie “In time”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well I am the original poster. Thanks for the recommendation. I had never heard of “In Time”. My daughter and I love to watch movies together. We have a blast and then we discuss.

        So let me give you my recommendation, “Peaceful Warrior”.

        If you cannot get it, look on

        Cayman forever!

        • Cass says:

          I agree with the original poster; you are not alone my friend. Lots of free-thinkers out there, who question everything on a daily basis. Most people are blind to reality… sad. God bless you and your family.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope the cameras on these drones are better than those we paid millions of dollars for, that are bolted up on utility poles around the island.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Cayman Islands tax payers didn’t get value for money with those.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Strange coincidence – its the Security Centre providing these too. Weren’t they the guys providing the wonderful CCTV system, and the security on the George Town evidence and drugs container? Hell of a track record. Any relationships here we need to be aware of?

      • Rorschach says:

        Any relationships indeed? Now you’re starting to ask the right question

      • Anonymous says:

        only the one we all know about

      • Anonymous says:

        You listed correctly 8:42pm and don’t forget the Cubans escaping from Fairbanks not to long ago, they were guarding at that time too? But my question is why aren’t these government contracts put through the bidding process? And if they are just getting in because of the relationship of certain people, how can we find this out and prove it, then we can bring it to light. But technically this type of service should have been bidded out including the security at the RCIPS and Fairbanks to name a few…yes and Immigration, the glass house…have I forgotten any?????

    • Just thinking says:

      Why don’t the Prison Officals put up anopther fence Approx. 60 feet from the fence that are there now.When they throw the drugs over the first fence it will fall in between the fences and the prisoners counld not have acces to it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Drones do not need a break or get tired. Mr Lavis, that is because they only work for twenty minutes then they are exhausted and need recharge. Of course the operator can carry on without a break – not.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Someone somewhere is making a pretty dollar out of this wacky idea. Drones cannot be used at night period, guess when most of the smuggling takes place. What is the cost of training, certificates and insurance? Add the prisons staff operating it (or probably two), more staff for the prison. Credit to whoever sold this to government, you got one over them

    • Anonymous says:

      They can be used 24/7 nonstop if you purchase a military/police drone, not available to civilian markets, which are equipped with flir cameras, listening equipment and other spying goodies.

      It’s an invasion into people’s private lives whether you like it or not, scary times ahead. Nothing to stop them deploying it in public areas & listening into private conversations etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:06 Got one over them is right. I guess the drones will be another rip-off, like the CCTVs. What a tangled web you weave. Who are you deceiving? Taxpayers!!

  31. Anonymous says:

    “The drones are also used to patrol the perimeter fence, and unlike humans, “they don’t get tired and don’t need a drink and don’t need a break”, Lavis explained.”

    Um, but they need batteries right? So the perpatrators can sit in the bush, wait till the things battery dies, then hurl the drugs over the wall.


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