Footage captured by an ABC News drone was seized on Friday after two staff were allegedly caught flying the device above Tamworth Correctional Centre without permission.
Authorities believe national indigenous affairs reporter, Bridget Brennan, and cameraman, Michael Noll, were attempting to obtain footage for the network’s coverage on the custody death of Aboriginal man Tane Chatfield, 22.
Chatfield was found unresponsive in the jail last week and died in hospital two days later.
The death is being investigated but isn’t being treated as suspicious.
ABC’s national indigenous affairs reporter, Bridget Brennan, (above) and cameraman, Michael Noll, were caught flying a drone in restricted airspace over Tamworth prison on Friday
Officers at the prison chased the drone in a car after spotting it flying over the prison around 9am on Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The ABC crew initially claimed they were shooting ‘general footage of the area,’ according to a corrective services spokeswoman.
‘Under further questioning, the journalist admitted they were capturing footage of the centre and did not have a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) licence to do so,’ she explained.
The act was slammed by NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott who said using a drone to fly over a prison was ‘reckless and irresponsible.’
‘Drones are a significant risk to prisons because they can be used to smuggle drugs, weapons and mobile phones.’
The crew initially claimed they were shooting ‘general footage of the area,’ but later admitted to obtaining footage of the prison without a proper licence
‘They can also be used for surveillance, risking the security of staff and the prison. I commend the correctional officers who spotted the drone and tracked down the journalist and cameraman.’
The footage was seized by police and an investigation to decide whether charges will be laid is being conducted by CASA.
The drone was being flown in the restricted airspace of Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Tamworth Regional Airport.
An ABC spokeswoman said the 7.30 team explained their actions after being approached by Corrective Services officers and police.