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Gatwick campaign to reduce drunk & disruptive passengers hailed a success

A campaign to combat drunken and disruptive behaviour at Gatwick Airport has reached a successful conclusion.

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Project Disrupt – formerly known as Operation Disrupt – was launched in 2015 with the following aims:

  • To prevent, reduce and control drunken or disruptive behaviour at the airport and on flights;
  • To raise awareness of the campaign through early engagement with passengers;
  • And to take robust action against those who compromise this.

This year, Sussex Police has worked more collaboratively with Gatwick Airport Ltd and its businesses, including retailers, restaurants and airlines, and all staff are encouraged to report any incidents as early as possible to enable officers to intervene and prevent situations from potentially escalating.

A total of 376 reports of problematic passengers were reported to police during the latest campaign, which ran from 1 May to 31 August. This is despite an increase of 106,475 passengers compared to the same period the previous year.

It also bucks the trend of recent years, which saw a steady increase of recorded incidents year-on-year (118 in 2015; 113 in 2016; 266 in 2017; and 379 in 2018).

Inspector James Biggs, of the Gatwick Prevention Team, said:

“While these figures may seem high on the face of it, recorded incidents of disorderly behaviour are comparatively rare at the airport, representing just 0.001 per cent of all passengers. However, when incidents do occur, we need to ensure we are able to respond efficiently and effectively, to keep the level of disruption to a minimum.

“Identifying potential problem passengers at an early stage allows airlines to put bags on standby so they do not have to search the entire hold if an individual continues to be disruptive and is refused flight. This results in fewer delayed flights and less congestion, saving both the airline – and the airport – time and money.

“We run this operation over the summer months when typically, reports of drunken or disorderly behaviour at the airport increase. But it’s important to note that this is not all about drunkenness – of the 376 incidents reported, only 119 were recorded as being alcohol-related.”

Other factors include smoking, drug-taking, domestic incidents, assaults, baggage problems, delayed or cancelled flights and medical or mental health episodes.

There were 51 arrests, down from 56 in 2018, broken down as follows:

  • 27 alcohol-related;
  • 9 public order;
  • 6 assault;
  • 4 sexual offences;
  • 3 racially aggravated public order;
  • 2 domestic violence.

Insp Biggs added:

“Of the 27 alcohol-related arrests, nine were on inbound flights, which we could not have any influence or control over. And while we endeavour to engage with outbound passengers to make them aware of their responsibilities before they fly, there will unfortunately always be a minority who ignore our advice and ruin their trip for themselves – and others.

“We hope to build on this collaborative operation to develop and improve Project Disrupt, to ensure Gatwick Airport continues to be a safe and successful destination to travel to and from.”

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

“Only a very small minority of our passengers are disruptive, but it is important that we do all we can to reduce this number further.

“These figures suggest that our joint campaign with the police is working and has reversed the trend. We are not complacent, however, and we will continue to improve the measures we have in place, including working collaboratively with our airlines and the police, encouraging the early reporting of disruptive behaviour and targeting specific flights.

“It also remains vital that the public are aware of the serious consequences of being disruptive while at an airport or on an aircraft.”

In addition to the arrests made, 22 passengers received a Community Resolution, 67 were decontrolled (removed from a flight) and six were required to quit (leave the airport).

Only 146 of the 376 incidents reported required police action; the remaining were resolved by other agencies such as the airport or airlines.

Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of its 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 up to two years in prison.

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

Gatwick

Amazing opportunity as Gatwick looks for a new charity partner

London Gatwick yesterday (3rd Oct ’19) announced that it is seeking a new charity partner, with the successful applicant set to secure a unique opportunity to increase its profile and fund raising possibilities.

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The partnership will last for two years and registered local charities are encouraged to apply before the deadline of 15th November 2019.

The airport will choose the charity that can best improve the lives of local people through the partnership, with applicants also assessed on what the charity wants to achieve from the new relationship, what the money raised will go towards and why it will be a good ‘fit’ with Gatwick and its employees.

In addition to an increase in profile and contributions, Gatwick will encourage the airport’s 3000 staff and its partners to volunteer their time and expertise to the chosen charity and help support fund raising events and projects.

Gatwick has three charity partners at any one time, which it works with to raise funds over the longer term – two local and one airport-based charity. Gatwick’s current ongoing charities are Gatwick TravelCare and Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, with Gatwick’s work with St Catherine’s Hospice coming to an end in April 2020 after a double term of four years.

Gatwick TravelCare has been working alongside Gatwick’s terminal teams to assist passengers since 1986.  Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex makes emergency crews available to respond to emergency situations across the region every day of the year.

For community groups that do not have charity status or for those that do not feel a charity partnership would be appropriate, the airport also provides Gatwick Foundation Fund grants Applications for grants in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex can be made via the Gatwick website.

Melanie Wrightson, Community Engagement Manager, Gatwick Airport said:

“We are excited about our new partnership and can not wait to see who applies next! If you think your charity could improve the lives of local people in partnership with us, then please apply!

“Our aim for this new partnership is to replicate the success we have had with our previous charity partners.”

Allan McHenry, Assistant Director of Service delivery, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex said:

“The sponsorship from Gatwick is incredibly important to us. A lot of the people going off on holiday travel through Gatwick and it gives them the opportunity to find out more about our charity and helps us raise our profile”.

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