Last week, correctional officers at Collins Bay Institution recovered a drone and contraband along the perimeter of the prison.
Rob Finucan, regional president for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, says that drones delivering contraband to prisons has become a growing concern.
“It actually started six, seven years ago in the Quebec region. Now, it’s migrated to our region — Collins Bay, Millhaven and Bath, recently,” he explained.
Finucan says drone operators cover their devices’ lights so that the drones are difficult to see.
In the last 48 hours, correctional officers have seen drone activity at both the Bath and Millhaven institutions, according to Finucan.
“Obviously, there’s been officers outside or had their window down while on mobile patrol and hear the buzzing of the motors,” said Finucan.
If officers don’t hear the drone then Finucan says they probably won’t see it, either.
Correctional Services Canada put out a tweet in November asking the public to report any drone activity around prisons.
CSC regional spokesperson Wayne Buller says this type of activity started picking up last fall.
Buller says most contraband seized in area prisons has been primarily drugs and tobacco.
“It seems to be a method they are using now. The drug dealers are using drones now to get illicit drugs into the institution,” said Buller.
Finucan says correctional officers are concerned that weapons may get smuggled in, placing officers and inmates at risk.
“Eventually, our members are worried that a gun is going to be dropped into the institution,” he said.
Buller didn’t want to get into specifics about the measures CSC is taking to prevent drone smuggling into local prisons because he didn’t want to give drone operators any insight, but he says the organization is adapting to the situation.
“We have officers on patrol outside the institutions, inside the institutions, as well as technologies that we have and other newer technologies that we continue to explore,” he said.
However, Finucan says CSC needs to do more.
“We can’t reduce the staffing levels while we have this amount of activity and we need something in the interim until they get a system in place that we can detect them coming or block them from coming,” he said.
In the last three months, CSC has seized a range of contraband, including tobacco, cellphones, marijuana, ceramic blades and crack cocaine from local institutions.