£50k doesn't cut it for being "commercially exploitable"
% of sales however...
The UK's Ministry of Justice is offering up to £50,000 for bright ideas to stop drones and mobile phones from getting into prisons. "The aim of this competition is to develop novel detection techniques to identify these and other contraband items," according to the funding notice. Top priority for the MoJ is detecting and …
I guess the 'commercially exploitable' means they don't need to pay any licensing, although of course they still need to pay for equipment.
For me, I think faffing about with e-solutions to detect/stop drones is stupid. Just put fishing nets all round and above prison yards. Cheap to install and maintain, and if fine enough would also stop stuff being lobbed over the walls. Job done
Can I have my 50 grand please?
A net. Yes.
Make it with a metal (wire) running through the mesh and it would act as a shield against mobile phone signals (if the mesh was correctly designed). That wouldn't completely block the signal, but it would make things harder. Randomise the daily schedule so that pre-scheduled "drops" would have a much lower chance of anyone being able to collect the contraband.
In addition, remove the opportunities to recharge the phones once they are inside the prison.
I think that's the ideal answer. Jam the bands used by cell phones and Wi-Fi. Turn smartphones into expensive "Flappy Bird" consoles.
I can't help but indulge in a bit of overthink. A huge fan of the technology since its introduction in 1987, I believe the ideal system for drone interdiction would be the ED-209.
"I think that's the ideal answer. Jam the bands used by cell phones and Wi-Fi. Turn smartphones into expensive "Flappy Bird" consoles."
The problem there is some prisons are in built-up areas, or have public roads running by them so the jammers have to be very, very carefully calibrated and positioned or they'd be in breach of existing laws. Or change the law for a specific use case.
Incarceration means the prisoners have plenty of time on their hands in which to think about ways to overcome whatever obstacles the Powers That Be put in their way.
Over here in the comments section we offer up come ideas based on a few minutes thought while reading the article while drinking a cup of tea.
Contrast that with someone who's banged up in a cell for hours every day with nothing better to do than think about how to improvise a phone charger out of whatever material they can get their hands on.
Even so, incarceration is and always has been a bloody big disincentive.
Not much of a disincentive, given that we've got 80,000 crims in clink in the UK at any one time, despite most prisoners being released halfway through their sentence. And the re-offending rate for prisoners released from a custodial sentence of less than 12 months is a staggering 58% re-offending within a year of release, showing that the majority are neither reformed, nor deterred. And the more previous offences an offender has, the more likely to re-offend in future.
So not a bloody big disincentive. To paraphrase the immortal words of Messrs Clement and La Frenais, it would appear that inmates are mostly habitual criminals, who accept arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accept imprisonment in the same casual fashion.
> Build moats round all the prisons then get some duck billed platypus wearing monocles, top hats and walking sticks trained to confuse anyone trying to smuggle contraband using interpretive dance routines.
> I see no problem with this plan.
Did it slip your mind that all* animals from Australia are venomous?
*Ok, I exaggerate. Some of the sheep are safe.
Put all prisons on remote islands and then implement an area defence system to destroy all incoming objects.
Don't allow visitors.
Because the conditions will be so tough, make sentences shorter.
All recidivists get double their previous sentence until they stop or die.
I think gulags weren't what you might assume they were.
Locking up career criminals alongside political prisoners is likely to generate issues.
Also - if the conditions there were semi-normal then the black markets for food, clothes, etc would have been non-existent.
Plus the political prisoners weren't meant to be 'reformed' - they were meant to perish in the harsh conditions.
... just jam them. Yes, I know that's illegal and would create a dead area around the facility, but the Government isn't restricted by the law since they can change it if they don't like it. Anything else either won't work or will have even nastier potential side effects (like projectile weaponry or making drones crash onto roads and houses).
The other option is even simpler, doesn't require changing the law and addresses all security threats rather than just these two - hire sufficient staff!
A/C because we built a prison security system a while ago.
... one of the most chilling things I think I've read this week.
If a majority of people believe this, we're already fucked.
(I know any US readers will have snorted at that, and thanked their lucky stars for 1776. I can already hear them saying "See, 231 years, and the British STILL don't get it.")
Governments that get to do whatever they like, unfettered by law, aren't governments. They are occupying forces.
Re:but the Government isn't restricted by the law since they can change it if they don't like it
... one of the most chilling things I think I've read this week.
I think he's referring to the fact that Ministers can vary the rules regarding jamming telecommunication devices via secondary legislation (Executive Orders to Americans) if they want to. It is already done on a temporary basis to defeat cellphone triggered IEDs during particular events.
More generally, the principle of Parliamentary Supremacy means that no parliament may bind its successors and that the Judicial branch cannot countermand the express will of parliament. Add that to the fact that any government has to have a parliamentary majority and it is clearly true that the government can attempt to change any law it finds inconvenient. That doesn't mean they'll succeed. They would have to get a majority of MPs (650 of them) to go along with it and secure Royal Assent. For a technical measure regarding radio broadcast frequencies that is likely to be possible - for an Enabling Act it likely isn't.
As for the USA, they may have a written constitution but what it actually means is decided by only 9 people (currently), all nominated by the Executive and subject to approval by only one part of the Legislature. Since the number of justices isn't fixed, you only need to rig the votes of 102 people (the President and a majority of Senators) to pack the Court with stooges and achieve the same effective power. FDR nearly tried this in the '30's but managed to get his own way without doing so.
"I think he's referring to the fact that Ministers can vary the rules regarding jamming telecommunication devices via secondary legislation"
I suspect it's more like not understanding the constitutional subtleties of Government Vs Parliament. Which can be understood, as the government seems to misunderstand at the moment.
Or did I just miss a joke?
"hire sufficient staff!"
This, except that many times it is the staff themselves who are the weak links in the security. So you have to pay them enough to make bribery less of an incentive, and also have systems in place where nothing can be done by one guard on their own, and there are no fixed pairs of guards that can get things done together
rather than worrying about people getting contraband into jails, why not start with reducing the number of people in jail to start with ? (I.e. reduce the attack surface area).
Reviewing our asinine drugs laws would be a start. And then all the offences about "offence" ....
Using FPS video games as a proxy (quick, accurate reactions required), I would be more confident about driving drunk than I would be about driving stoned though I definitely wouldn't do either. SSRIs (Prozac etc) - no detectable difference, benzodiazepines (Valium etc) - about as bad as being over the limit but not otherwise obviously drunk.
Femtocells controlled by the prison authorities, with a list of authorized IMSIs. Temporary visitors can obtain a short lived authorization -a few hours- so they can communicate with the exterior in an emergency. Add a network of directional detectors to immediately pinpoint unauthorized calls so the wardens can immediately identify any intern trying to make a call, possibly with the help of the prisons surveillance cameras. This should be balanced by inexpensive 'controlled' landline calls so the interns can call their families at a reasonable prize.
The drones? Birds of prey trained to attack drones, helped by a network of directional detectors in the outer walls looking for the frequencies used for controlling drones, detecting their place of origin and probably interfering with the control signals. For drones controlled by mobile phones, see the first paragraph.
Just lock the prisoners in their cells 24/7. This does have a few disadvantages of course such as the prisoners being insane when they are finally released and being totally against the letter and spirit of human rights laws but it would stop delivery of contraband items.
An alternative for the mobile phone problem - build prisons on islands such as Skye where the mobile phone service is so bad that for much of the island no phone can get a signal.
Just spend the 50K on covering the prison with a giant micro-filament net... air and sunshine can fall from the sky... but no contraband... then you can make 'spider-drones' that crawl the this giant web and ingest anything stuck in it... a bit like a giant spider-web... or something...
I am with you on this. No signal. No drones. You could pipe in natural daylight using fibre optic bundles - with suitable wide area collectors and mixed feeds making the ability to flash messages in and out rather tricky. Of course, how long before some criminal syndicate funds the development of a remotely operated tunnelling machine?
What about (1) employing sufficient staff to be able to do their jobs properly, (2) locking fewer people up in the first place, (3) not having any cell towers within range of prisons (or maybe just one cell tower, that is locked to specific SIM ICCIDs, so only pre-approved phones can connect to it) or (4) realising that preventing prisoners from making phone calls might not be the easiest stage at which to deal with the problem?
(2) locking fewer people up in the first place
Referring to the appalling rates of re-offending, we can be sure that a spell in clink doesn't reform the bastards. But having the scum put away certainly minimises the inconvenience the rest of us whilst they can only offend against fellow offenders (a "problem" that I don't give a shit about).
So, if you want fewer people put away, what offences that currently carry a custodial sentence do you propose should be non-custodial, bearing in mind these are people who we can confidently say are scofflaws who will take every advantage of not being in clink? Or are you proposing that the sentences net of parole should be even shorter than they already are?
I've never seen the point of not using a shotgun. We have in Britain plenty of trained clay-pigeon shooters who'd love a nice easy shot at a loaded drone. Probably wouldn't have to pay them if you let them keep the contraband. Or a tenner per 'bird' downed, whichever.
For me, though, the right thing to do would be to permit all the drugs and phones to enter freely. Someone sitting in a THC haze texting his mum isn't the bloke sharpening a shiv and/or denouncing all and sundry as kaffir unbelievers (replace with religious maniac epithet of your choice).
Why bother? Just use Stingray devices inside the prison. You can then send all the calls to the bit bucket. You can also monitor all the calls and record them to gain intelligence. Since prison staff generally not allowed to have cell phones inside the prison (they use land lines), only illegal prisoner-possessed phones would be affected.
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