Justice Secretary Liz Truss suggests barking dogs could stop drones flying drugs into prisons

Sam Gyimah, the Justice Secretary's deputy, was unable to suppress a smirk as the suggestion was made in the House of Commons

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Indy Politics

Justice Secretary Liz Truss left MPs baffled after claiming that barking dogs could be used to stop drones flying drugs into prisons.

The gaffe-prone Cabinet minister raised eyebrows with her unlikely solution to the growing problem of the small radio controlled aircraft delivering banned items to prisoners.

One Labour MP, during justice questions in the Commons, shouted out: "It's the minister who is barking.”

And Ms Truss’s deputy, prisons minister Sam Gyimah, could be seen smirking on the Government bench behind his boss.

Figures released earlier this year showed a big spike in the number of incidents of prisoners receiving drugs, mobile phones and other banned products via drones.

A total of 33 incidents were recorded in 2015 - compared with just two the year before and none in 2013 – creating growing problems for governors and ministers.

The Government recently announced "no-fly zones" will be imposed over jails to stop contraband being smuggled over prison walls and security fences.

Challenged by Labour to explain how the no-fly zones would be enforced, Ms Truss said her department was “working with the drone manufacturers”.

And she added: “What we are doing is solutions such as installing extra netting.

"I was at HMP Pentonville last week. They've now got patrol dogs who are barking, which helps deter drones.

“So we're using all kinds of solutions to deal with contraband coming into our prisons.”

Later, Conservative MP Victoria Prentis asked Ms Truss: “Procurement is a complicated business.

"What guidance and training are being given to governors to ensure they're able to complete the procurement process properly - be it about mental health service provision or even the recruitment of dogs that bark at drones?”

In reply, Ms Truss joked: “It sounds like you're asking for some of these patrol dogs at your local prison, HMP Bulling.”

The comments come a few weeks after the Ministry of Justice said it was exploring whether eagles could be used to take down the drones.

Mr Gyimah suggested the UK could follow the example of Dutch police, who use the bird of prey to intercept the high-tech devices. 

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