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External costs of policing and security

4th December, 2008

Policing and security are another example of ‘external costs’ not borne by the aviation industry or its customers.

London City Airport cost London taxpayers £7million last year for policing and this will increase with more flights. They refuse to pay any money towards this cost at all, and according to Len Duval of the GLA (Greater London Authority) they won’t even discuss it. Alongside that, North Woolwich Police station is closing … due to lack of funds. [Information from Fight the Fight – campaign against expansion of London City Airport]

In 2006 Stephen Boys Smith, having been asked to study the topic by DfT, recommended that airport operators should pay the costs of airport policing. Apart from a small number of airports, these costs have been borne by the local County forces, and thus represent yet another hidden subsidy from society to aviation.

This is what Jim Fitzpatrick told a conference on airport security in Oct 08: “You should take some reassurance that the legislative provisions won’t come into force until 2010, with the requirement for all airports to pay for policing likely to start in 2011.” 

This is 5 years from decision to action – and then, only likely action. 

There is also the related issue of police responsibility and impact of airport-related crime on the local community. [Information from resident near Heathrow]

A couple of years ago, a man murdered someone in the village of Harlington (next to Heathrow) in the early hours of the morning. He injured several others – including the ambulance crew that came to attend the dying man and another seriously injured.

It turned out that the airport police had ejected this man from Heathrow. Apparently it is standard procedure for airport police (any airport) to remove undesirables and just drop them at set points – one is a bus stop near our village.  This happens regularly. It means airport police, for all their fancy guns, can easily shift their problems to another force. Would this be tolerated if our local police took their suspected criminals and dropped them at Terminal Five?”