People have strengthened their agitation for the implementation of rules for no-fly zones over New South Wales prisons right after an unidentified drone was detected over Goulburn Jail in the southern tablelands. According to a spokesman for the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services, a prison officer in a watchtower moved closer for a clearer look, but the drone flew away quickly.
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“Late on the night of December 11, 2015, an officer in a tower at Goulburn Correctional Center saw a small drone about 100 meters above the main part of the prison,” he said. “The officer moved out of the tower along the catwalk toward the drone, which flew away from the prison until it was no longer visible. Officers searched the prison and nothing was found.”
Guy Zangari, NSW Opposition Corrective Services spokesman, said it was a very unfortunate security incident.
“Drones around prisons will certainly collect intelligence, could possibly be dropping off contraband to prisons, and the inevitable—hatching possible escape plans for prisoners. As it is today, there are no restrictions to drones flying over prisons,” he said.
“I’m calling for the Premier Mike Baird and the Corrective Services Minister David Elliott to work together to work together with the federal government to ensure there are restrictions against drones flying over the state’s prisons,” Mr. Elliot said. Also according to him, there have been calls for no-fly zones across the country’s prisons, at a national corrective services ministers meeting earlier this year.
“Of course technology is getting better, prisoners are getting access and the criminal elements are getting access to that technology,” Mr. Elliott said. “I, with a number of my state colleagues around Australia, have asked the Federal Government to have the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issue us with the authority to ensure no-fly zones exist over prisons.”
Mr. Elliott added that he wants to make the maximum amount of authority and legislative guidance is given for prison operators. He said there have been six examples in the last 12 months where drones have gone over prisons statewide.
“That is six too many. I need the authority to make sure the community knows this is an illegal activity, and I need the authority to make sure prison operators know that they can act within the law,” he said.
From the Civil Aviation Authority
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said there were already comprehensive safety regulations covering the operation of drones. A CASA spokesman said the regulations covered where and how drones can be flown, including permission to fly closer than 30 meters to people or populous areas and at night time.
He said that jails were thought to be populous areas and that state governments had the power to control which activities were undertaken in the direct airspace over its jails.