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Police issue warning as summer crackdown on disruptive passengers launches at Gatwick Airport

Passengers are being reminded to “behave responsibly and fly responsibly” when at Gatwick Airport, as part of a project to tackle all forms of disruptive behaviour.

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Reported incidents of disorderly behaviour are comparatively rare at the airport but when incidents occur they can have a significant impact on the travel plans of other passengers, especially when a flight is delayed or diverted.

On Wednesday 1 May, Sussex Police and Gatwick Airport launched Project Disrupt – a collaborative approach committed to reducing the number of disruptive passenger incidents, both at the airport and on board aircraft.

A total of 379 incidents of disruption were reported to police during the summer campaign in 2018, representing just 0.001 per cent of all passengers.

Of those reports, a total of 77 passengers were refused carriage.

In addition, 56 passengers were arrested for offences including being drunk and disorderly (before getting on board an aircraft), being drunk on board an aircraft, assault and endangering an aircraft – up from 48 in 2017.

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.

Disruptive behaviour however also includes all forms of verbal or physical abuse, antisocial behaviour, criminal damage, smoking or vaping and drug use.

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

The force, working closely with the airport, its pubs and bars, and airlines, will carry out dedicated patrols as part of Project Disrupt, which runs all year round but with increased activity and focus during the summer months.

The project also encourages staff from across the airport campus – including those employed at check-in desks, security check points, shops, restaurants, and taxi ranks – to report incidents of disruptive behaviour early on.

Gatwick is also this year introducing a streamlined process to encourage both improved reporting and subsequent action to deal with incidents of disruptive behaviour before they potentially escalate. For example, data on all incidents will now be recorded differently – often in real time and on handheld devices ‘at the scene’ – to improve communication between airport, airlines and the police.

Data incidents will also be regularly analysed to identify patterns and potential root causes, helping to targeted action to deal with the problem at source.

This proactive approach involves early engagement with passengers, ensuring they are aware of their responsibility before they board a flight – or face the consequences, which are clearly displayed at various locations across the airport.

Inspector James Biggs, of the Gatwick Prevention Team, said: “While the vast majority of passengers are well-behaved, and travel through the airport and arrive at their destination without a problem, there is a very small minority who ruin it for themselves and for others.

“By engaging with passengers at the earliest opportunity – through patrols, face to face contact by Police and airport staff and the distribution of posters and leaflets – we are making them fully aware of the rules and their own responsibility.

“Passengers could be refused carriage if they are considered to be drunk, disorderly or disruptive.

“We are not out there with the intention to arrest people or ruin their holiday; we want all passengers to travel through Gatwick safely and smoothly.

“We are fully committed to working with Gatwick Airport to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.”

Nikki Barton, Head of Stable Operations, Gatwick Airport, said: “Only a tiny minority of Gatwick’s 46 million annual passengers are disruptive, but we are determined to do what we can to stamp out this sort of behaviour.

“A range of measures including working collaboratively with our airlines and the police to encourage early reporting and targeted intervention appear to be working. We are, however, introducing further measures to prevent more serious incidents of disruptive behaviour from occurring on board aircraft, and this year a new streamlined reporting and recording process should help us to respond and deal with incidents as they occur on the airport.

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

Charity

Gatwick Express team gives cash boost to Crawley charity

The Gatwick Express team has given a local charity a cash boost following a number of staff fundraising initiatives in recent months.

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Maria Cook, Chair of Autism Support Crawley (left) takes delivery of a 'rail ticket cheque' from Gatwick Express managers

Autism Support Crawley, which supports children and adults on the autistic spectrum, has been given a generous donation of £1,931.15 thanks to kind-hearted Gatwick Express staff who have taken part in a series of activities at Gatwick Airport Station, including cake sales, a Christmas jumper competition and bucket appeals.

Station staff were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque to Autism Support Crawley on Tuesday, May 21 to the chairperson of the charity, Maria Cook.

She said:

“We are thrilled to receive such wonderful support from everyone at Gatwick Express.

“Their response to the voluntary work that we do for over 1,200 families across Sussex and Surrey is overwhelming. This will go a long way in helping us to continue to support families and work with lots of different professions to improve understanding, acceptance and inclusion in society,”she added.

Gatwick Express staff were inspired to support the charity after hosting a group from Autism Support Crawley for a ‘Try a Train’ event, during which autistic young people and adults were shown around the station to help them become more familiar and confident when travelling by train, as well as how to buy tickets to support more independent travel.

Gatwick area station manager David Stronell said:

“We’re really proud of all the work we have done to help the charity. The whole station has been involved in the fundraising.

“Since we started supporting the charity, it has sparked a lot of conversations and a lot of staff have talked about having children on the autistic spectrum. It has brought us all together and got people opening up about autism, which in turn has raised awareness for us all,” said David.

Charity trustee, member and service user Charlotte Gover said:

“The amazing donation from Gatwick Express will support so many of our families by enabling us to continue to provide information sessions, conferences, coffee mornings, evening meetings and much needed inclusive family events.”

Staff at Gatwick are now gearing up for their next fundraising events so watch this space!

This month also marks the 35th birthday of Gatwick Express and there have been plenty of activities going on to celebrate the occasion.

For more information, visit:http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/govia-thameslink-railway/pressreleases/gatwick-express-staff-celebrate-35-years-of-operations-2872525

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