Avoiding Prison(s)

Working with HM Prison Service, we are pleased to announce the general availability of our UK Prisons datasets to our apps, maps and developer platform APIs. This means it is now easy for drone pilots to identify prisons and other HM Prisons facilities. Connected drones and flight planning apps using our geofencing platform will automatically receive the new areas and help you avoid them.

It may come as a surprise, however, only a few prisons in the United Kingdom are actually covered by specific regions of regulated airspace which would prohibit flight over them. Other than conditions otherwise stipulated within the Air Navigation Order, this means there are no specific aerial restrictions in force. In addition, as many UK prisons are located within relatively dense urban environments, creating ‘arbitrary’ circular restricted areas over them would potentially impact those flying legally nearby, caught up in the catchment area of the circle.

Introducing Prison Land Boundaries

To help you identify UK prisons, we have taken the land boundary of the prison and inflated it by 50 metres – the distance the Air Navigation Order requires you to keep from buildings or structures that are not under your control (of course, if you are a licensed commercial drone pilot and you do have such permission, you will be able to ‘filter’ the prison zones from view).

The example below shows a UK prison overlaid on to our Ordnance Survey base map – a really popular choice for those flying in the UK:

An example of a UK prison on our web drone safety map, showing the land boundary inflated by 50 metres to ensure compliance with the Air Navigation Order

Clicking on the prison will yield further guidance:

Note: we have listed all HM Prisons (and related facilities) as ‘red zones’ on our map, to indicate that the area is a ‘high risk’ zone, and that flight of your drone might be hazardous and/or prohibited.


  1. tbh this is stupid. What stops someone using a catapult instead? Or even carrier pigeons? There are many designated flying fields right next to prisons, instead of trying to scapegoat drone users, how about properly monitoring prisoners and staff? Stats show the majority of contraband is brought in by staff and not some elaborate airlifting scheme.

    1. Hi Ben,

      Nobody is trying to ‘scapegoat’ drone users. On the contrary, we’re trying to help responsible drone pilots identify where they can and cannot fly. It’s up to the politicians and lawmakers to determine where they think the risks are, and we’re simply trying to help folks identify the areas where restrictions have been put in place.

      As you rightly point out, many fields and other open spaces are often located within the vicinity of prisons, and the reason we’ve chosen to identify them specifically on our maps is to help drone pilots be mindful of their surroundings so they can make better informed flying decisions.

      UK Government has a few active consultations on the rules and regulations for drone pilots; it might be a good idea for you to have a look through those and submit comments. As we sit on quite a few of these regulatory panels, we can tell you, they really do listen and take everything into account.

      All feedback helps!

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