Correctional service says it’s tackling ‘evolving threat’ posed by drone smugglers

The Correctional Service of Canada says it’s taking multiple steps to combat the “evolving threat” of drones dropping contraband into prisons.

This comes after B.C. guards rallied to call attention to violence that they say is fuelled by the smuggling. 

The service says in a statement it’s using a “layered approach” to respond to the drone drops by procuring drone detection equipment and piloting a program using cellphone detection technology. 

It says it’s also using body scanners, dogs trained to find electronic devices, and “infrastructure enhancements” at prison facilities. 

Corrections officials say they’re confident that the measures coupled with efforts of front-line prison staff will help curb contraband smuggled into prisons. 

The Correctional Service of Canada says it lacks “legal authority” to use drone jamming technology but is exploring both the “legal processes and feasibility” of eventually using the tech. 

On Thursday, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers held a protest in Abbotsford to highlight what it says is a wave of violence driven by drone drops of drugs and weapons.

John Randle, the Pacific regional union president, previously at least one prison in B.C. commonly has six or seven drone sightings a night.

He explained guards are hampered from holding inmates accountable for violence because they are no longer allowed to use “disciplinary segregation” to temporarily remove a prisoner from a unit if they are violent against other inmates or guards.

The union said in an earlier statement its officers are “routinely” targeted for assaults, often leaving them with both “physical and psychological injuries.”

It added the uptick in violence against guards has caused a mental health crisis, and working conditions and the management structure at correctional facilities don’t support front-line workers’ needs.