All prisons in the Netherlands are now equipped with an anti-drone network to prevent smuggling drones. In 2023, action was taken 55 times because a suspicious drone flew above or near a prison. This is evident from figures from the Judicial Institutions Agency (DJI) that were shared with the NPO Radio 1 podcast The Crime Bureau.
(Image: a drone at PI Krimpen in 2020)
In recent years, drones have regularly dropped drugs or phones on prison grounds, which are picked up by detainees. In 2023, 298 flying objects were discovered by the anti-drone network, but not all devices are classified as suspicious, for example because the drone owner is known. A total of 55 actions were taken last year. Fifteen telephones were found, three packages of drugs were intercepted and six suspects were arrested.
The DJI anti-drone system has been operational nationwide since last summer.
Cat and mouse game
Director General of the DJI Wim Saris told the Crime Bureau that drone detection is useful in the fight against contraband. ‘Intercepting contraband is a cat-and-mouse game. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that prisons will become completely contraband-free. But I can guarantee that we will make every effort to disrupt smuggling attempts and intercept contraband. This system will help us with that.’
The DJI continues to look for new, innovative solutions to further develop the anti-drone network. It is being investigated whether drone traffic above prisons can be disrupted. A so-called ‘mobile phone umbrella’ has previously been tested to disrupt mobile telephone traffic in prisons. This technique turned out not to be feasible yet.
In May 2022, Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind announced that all Dutch prisons will have a system to detect drones. Penitentiaries already had a system to prevent the smuggling of drugs, telephones and weapons with drones, for example.
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