SYDNEY, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Drones have banned from flying near, or above, Victorian prisons in an Australian-first crackdown, it was announced on Tuesday.
The Victorian government has established strict no-fly zones for drones near and above the state's most secure jails after incidents of inmates using the devices to smuggle in contraband.
The law will also include helicopters hovering lower than 120 meters altitude, with a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for those caught violating the laws, the same punishment for smuggling contraband into a facility by any other means.
Gayle Tierney, Victoria's Corrections Minister, said drones could be used to smuggle drugs, weapons and mobile phones into prisons.
She said they could also be used as a surveillance tool to probe for weaknesses in a facility's security.
"If someone wants to use a drone to drop contraband into a prison they might find themselves on the wrong side of the wall," Tierney told reporters on Tuesday.
Prisoners at the Melbourne Assessment Prison were evacuated from an exercise yard in May 2016 when a drone, which was carrying out architectural work, flew near the facility.
Drones have also encroached on airspace near the Metropolitan Remand Centre, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and the newly-built Ravenhall in recent years.
A man was arrested in March 2014 for allegedly trying to use a drone to smuggle drugs into the Metropolitan Remand Centre but was later released without charges.