To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Home Secretary and (b) Secretary of State for Transport on the (i) efficacy and (ii) future development of the Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy in relation to the illicit use of drones around prisons in England and Wales.
The Ministry of Justice is working hard to deter, detect and disrupt the illegal use of drones around prisons. My department worked with the Home Office and the Department for Transport to develop the UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy (2019). The strategy aims to reduce the risk posed by the highest-harm illegal use of drones. In May of this year, we enacted the Air Traffic and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021 (ATUMA). This Act gave new powers to the police including to order a pilot to ground a drone, stop and search people and vehicles, obtain a warrant to search property and, intercept and seize a drone where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting a drone has or is likely to be involved in an offence.
The strategy is due for review next year and, through the cross-government Counter Drones Board, my officials are engaged in ongoing discussions to ensure that the strategy addresses the efficacy of new and existing counter-drone technology, and future options to help tackle the threat posed by drones to our prisons – namely the conveyance of contraband.