Brit prosecutors fling almost a million quid at anti-drone'n'phone ideas

Kill or capture, and get £50k for trying

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 locating SIM cards and handsets, "including phones with very low metal content". Among a list of other priorities (finding drugs, weapons and so on) are the requirements to detect and capture drones – or cause their "safe destruction".

Potential applicants are warned that their projects should be "robust enough to withstand the prison environment", as well as being "commercially exploitable".

Authorities around the world have struggled to find ways and means of stopping drones dropping contraband into prisons. The MoJ previously demanded that prisons become no-fly zones for drones, with restrictions hard-coded into the devices; an idea attractive to those with no idea of how small consumer drones operate.

Meanwhile, IMSI catchers – surveillance devices that capture the unique IMSI number of a phone handset – have been deployed in British prisons. But prisoners in Scotland defeated such a device by wrapping it in tinfoil.

A total of £950,000 is up for grabs for the latest anti-drones 'n' phones campaign, with each individual project idea being limited to £50,000. ®

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