1. ITV Report

New unit to lead crackdown on prison drones

Drones have been used to fly contraband into prisons Credit: PA

A new specialist unit will lead efforts to prevent drones from dropping contraband like drugs and mobile phones into prisons.

Prisons have recorded a sharp increase in incidents involving drones in recent years, with figures showing 33 incidents of the gadgets being detected in or around jails in England and Wales in 2015.

There were just two incidents in 2014, and none in 2013.

The new team of prison and police officers will work with law enforcement agencies and HM Prison and Probation Service to inspect drones recovered from jails in an attempt to identify and track down people involved in attempting to smuggle contraband.

Investigators will combine intelligence from across prisons and the police to identify lines of inquiry which will be passed to local forces.

The crackdown aims to disrupt the flow of drugs and phones into prisons as the government tries to tackle increasing levels of violence and self-harm in prisons.

In one recent case, drones were used as part of an attempt to flood prisons with contraband worth around £48,000.

Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said: "We are absolutely determined to tackle the illegal flow of drugs and mobile phones into our prisons and turn them into places of safety and reform.

"The threat posed by drones is clear, but our dedicated staff are committed to winning the fight against those who are attempting to thwart progress by wreaking havoc in establishments all over the country.

"My message to those who involve themselves in this type of criminal activity is clear; we will find you and put you behind bars."