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Latest figures show campaign working as on-board incidents at Gatwick for drunk & disruptive passengers falls

A multi-agency campaign to combat drunken and disruptive behaviour at Gatwick Airport has proved successful once again, and led to fewer on-board incidents.



For the past four years, Sussex Police has worked closely with Gatwick Airport, its retailers and restaurants, and airlines, to prevent, reduce and control reports of problematic passengers at the airport and on flights.

Recorded incidents of disorderly behaviour are comparatively rare at the airport – representing just 0.001 per cent of all passengers – but when incidents do occur they can have a significant impact on the travel plans of other passengers in the instance a flight is delayed or diverted.

As part of Operation Disrupt 2018, officers were dedicated to carrying out proactive and reactive patrols daily between 1 April and 31 August – an increase from four days a week during the 2017 campaign.

Retail, restaurant and airline staff were also encouraged to report incidents of disruptive behaviour to police as early as possible so they could intervene and help prevent situations from escalating.

A total of 379 incidents were recorded. This is a 119 per cent increase on the 173 incidents recorded for the same period last year (2017), however airlines have stated there were fewer on-board incidents, reflecting the success of the operation’s focus on early reporting and early intervention.

There were 113 recorded incidents in 2016 and 118 in 2015.

Of the 379 incidents recorded, 113 (30 per cent) involved alcohol as the main factor and a further 113 (30 per cent) involved abusive or aggression as the main factor. Other issues included lost or misplaced luggage, medical episodes and missed or delayed flights.

Inspector Darren Taylor, of the Gatwick Airport Policing Team, said:

“This is the fourth successive term we’ve run Operation Disrupt, and the support we receive is growing year on year. More airlines and businesses at the airport are getting on board with it, more passengers are aware of it through increased publicity and proactive patrols, and overall it has been very well received.

“Working with our partners and encouraging early reporting, and having more police resources dedicated to the campaign, is reflected in the increase in recorded incidents this year. But the number of incidents is still miniscule compared to the number of passengers who travel through Gatwick Airport each year, maintaining its reputation as a safe and secure destination to travel to and from.”

There were a total of 56 arrests, although arrests for alcohol-related incidents fell by 26 in 2017 to 18 in 2018.

Of the total arrests, 11 received a police caution, 13 received a fixed penalty notice, 11 were charged to court, one was deported, one was summonsed to court, five were wanted on warrant and two were released under investigation.

The remaining 12 individuals were either de-arrested or had no further action taken against them.

An additional 77 passengers were refused carriage.

Insp Taylor said:
“We’re receiving more reports of incidents as they happen on the ground, which gives us the opportunity to deal with individuals before they board an aircraft, where they could potentially cause further disruption. In turn, this has led to a decrease in incidents occurring on-board.

“However we can’t be complacent – while the main aim of the operation is to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place, there is a small minority of people who believe it’s acceptable to abuse staff who are simply doing their job. It is not acceptable and it will not be tolerated.

“While this is a dedicated operation which runs over the summer months, we will continue to deal with any offences as part of our day-to-day policing of the airport throughout the year.”

Nikki Barton, Head of Stable Operations, Gatwick Airport, said:

“Only a small minority of Gatwick passengers are disruptive, but we are determined to do what we can to stamp out this sort of behaviour.

“By encouraging staff to report incidents to the police as early as possible we are purposely trying to prevent more serious situations from occurring later in their journey while on board aircraft. The fall in on board incidents shows that this approach is working but it remains vital that the public are aware of the serious consequences of being disruptive while at an airport or on an aircraft.”

Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of their aircraft, its crew or its passengers.

Any individual convicted of being drunk on board an aircraft could face a maximum fine of £5,000 and two years in prison.

Offenders may also be required to reimburse an airline in the event of a diverted or cancelled flight.


NO WAY! A FREE Christmas break abroad AND still save money on your shopping?

In what is fantastic (and perhaps rather surprising) news, it’s been discovered that Christmas shoppers can enjoy a night away in one of Europe’s most popular winter destinations – effectively for free – and still save money on their festive purchases, even after the cost of their flight and accommodation has been deducted.



How’s that possible? Well, with tax-free prices available in most Gatwick stores – and return flights to Dublin, for example, available from as little as £33 – shoppers can make significant savings when they buy and fly, compared with getting their gifts on the high street or online where tax is added to most products.

Plus, many of Gatwick’s retailers – including Reiss, Dune, Fat Face and Superdry – are now allowing customers to buy products from their entire online collections in-store at the airport and still receive the airport discount off their items!

This means that passengers can identify the products they’d like to buy before travelling to the airport, and order them in-store – at the tax-free equivalent price – once they’re in Gatwick’s departure lounge awaiting their flight. They can then have the products delivered directly to their home, or have them waiting at Gatwick for when they get back from their trip.

Buying and flying is, therefore, one of the smartest ways to save money during the notoriously expensive Christmas shopping season.

Take a look at this example that highlights the big savings that passengers can make on their festive finances if they choose to buy and fly this Christmas.

Gatwick to Dublin with Ryanair (South Terminal) – £33.98 return
Wed 5th December: LGW 09:40 – 11:05 DUB
Thu 6th December: DUB 16:55 – 18:20 LGW

You save £158.98 when buying the following five products at Gatwick, rather than on the high street or online.
After the cost of your flights (£33.98) and one night’s accommodation in Dublin (estimated at £50) is deducted, your final saving is £75.

Total: £158.98
– minus flights – £33.98
– minus accommodation – £50

Final: £75



  • Gia Leather Biker Jacket – Apricot (Women’s)
  • High Street: £375 | Gatwick: £312.50
  • Saving: £62.50

Ted Baker

  • Sandra Midi Wool Wrap Coat – Camel (Women’s)
  • High Street: £329 | Gatwick: £274.17
  • Saving: £54.83


  • Hero Leather Racer Jacket – Black (Men’s)
  • High Street: £199.99 | Gatwick: £166.66
  • Saving: £33.33

Jack Wills

  • ‘One’ Fragrance – 50ml (Men’s)
  • High Street: £34.95 | Gatwick: £29.13
  • Saving: £5.82

Skinny Dip

  • Dancing Mickey Phone Case
  • High Street: £15 | Gatwick: £12.50
  • Saving: £2.50

Rachel Bulford, Head of Retail, Gatwick Airport said:

“It’s exciting for Gatwick Airport and our retailers to be able to offer great savings on gifts compared with the high street, at what is the busiest time of the year for shoppers. By ticking everything off the Christmas list at Gatwick, shoppers can not only enjoy a trip away but also make savings on their festive finances even after the cost of their minibreak has been factored in.

“A number of our retailers are also now combining the ease of online shopping with big airport discounts, making buying and flying an even smarter choice this winter.”

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