Security installation at Channel Islands prison on Guernsey takes fight to drone criminals

A Channel Islands prison has become the first in the world to use a new system designed to prevent drones from 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.

That package includes the new ‘Sky Fence’ technology which creates a 600-metre shield around the prison to detect remote-controlled drones and then uses a series of ‘disruptors’ – ie sensors designed to jam drone computers – to block frequencies, control protocols and then divert drones back to where they originated from.

Drones have become a major security problem in Britain’s prisons and are increasingly used to smuggle in drugs, weapons, mobile phones and other valuables. As a result, the management team at Les Nicolles Prison 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 Perimeter Intrusion Detection systems business Harper Chalice has also supplied product installed by perimeter security solutions specialist Binns Fencing.

Prisoner governor David Matthews explained: “This is the first time the technology has been used in any prison anywhere in the world. I would like to see it adopted in other UK prisons because security around drones has become a significant problem. This security solution is about prevention.”

Nottingham-based company Drone Defence has worked on the idea in the past year. Founder and CEO Richard Gill said: “Our solution disrupts the control network between the flyer and the drone. The drone then activates ‘Return to Home’ mode and it will fly back to the position where it had a signal with its flyer. Someone has described this as the final piece in a prison’s security puzzle. I think it could have a significant worldwide impact.”

Eclipse’s managing director Alan Drinkwater added existing technology had been modified 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 prison’s four walls.

Les Nicolles Prison 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, in recent years, its population has fallen to an all-time low. Les Nicolles is independent of the mainland prison and justice system and run by the State of Guernsey.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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