Featherstone jailbreak plotters fly in bolt cutters with drone
Prisoners attempted a daring escape at HMP Featherstone after a drone tried to fly in a set of bolt cutters.
But the plot was foiled when officers at the Staffordshire jail spotted the aircraft near the perimeter fence.
The package is also reported to have contained mobile phones and drugs including dangerous legal high Spice.
Glyn Travis, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said: "The threat from drones is escalating.
"In this case, the discovery of bolt cutters suggests a plan to cut through the perimeter fence.
"There can be no doubt that an inmate inside had ordered the equipment for a possible escape bid.
"The POA is calling for increased staffing levels to tackle the security threat of drones."
A police investigation was launched after the drone was recovered on the Sunday March 6.
It is believed whoever was operating the device was actually trying to get it beyond the prison fence where inmates could access the contents but they inadvertently abandoned it in the wrong place.
Fortunately the contraband was discovered by jail staff before prisoners could get their hands on it.
Drones are being more frequently used to smuggle items into lock-ups. There were more than 30 recorded incidents in England and Wales last year.
One of the biggest finds was at Featherstone's neighbouring prison HMP Oakwood where a drone carrying drugs, mobile phones, a charger and USB cards was recovered.
Gavin Williamson MP for South Staffordshire said: "It is very concerning that people are using drones, not just to get illicit drugs into prison but also to aid in escape plans.
"The authorities really have to be commended for foiling this plan but it does show there needs to be more action to combat drones targeting prisons.
"I will be speaking to the prisons minister to see what can be done to help prison officers combat this growing threat."
Last year HMP Featherstone was dogged by controversy after a 20-inmate riot broke out in January and a burglar escaped the Category C site in April.
On the back of those incidents Featherstone and Brinsford Parish Council has been holding regular meetings with prison bosses, although chairman Frank Beardsmore said he had not been informed about this latest incident.
"I had a meeting two weeks ago with the management and nothing was mentioned about it," he said.
"The feedback I was getting was that things had gone quiet there so this is surprising.
"But it is concerning to hear about drones flying into Featherstone. Some people's houses are only 50metres away.
"Residents were getting worried about what was happening last year which is why we have been having regular meetings."
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