Hundreds of alleged offenders charged at airports in past six months

hand holding handcuffs

Editor’s note: Audio grabs of Assistant Commissioner Specialist Protective Command Scott Lee available via Hightail

The AFP has charged more than 330 alleged offenders with about 420 charges at airports in the past six months as passengers and visitors are warned unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.

Most charges relate to intoxication or offensive behaviour, possessing a prohibited weapon, carrying prohibited items, public disturbance and incidents relating to assault.

The AFP will increase patrols ahead of the festive season and will take action against those who are being disruptive or are breaking the law.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Specialist Protective Command Scott Lee said he was concerned about the level of intoxication of some passengers who had been charged.

“We expect passengers to be responsible when consuming alcohol but we also expect those who serve individuals to adhere to the responsible sale of alcohol provisions,’’ Assistant Commissioner Lee said.

“Some behaviour on flights in recent months has been appalling and in some cases, dangerous.

“Passengers, especially those travelling with children, expect to feel safe and should not have to witness intoxication, violence or bad behaviour.

“Airports are not night clubs. Intoxicated individuals on flights or in the terminal can be charged, and those who are convicted of an act of violence at an airport or endangering the safety of an aircraft in flight can be sentenced to up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

“These statistics, from April to October, 2022, reveals that almost 13 people every week are being charged at our major airports.”

There are about 500 members within the AFP’s Airport Uniform Police, Protection Operations Response Teams and Counter Terrorist First Response team at nine domestic airports – Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin.

The AFP has 49 explosive detection dogs operating and 25 canines capable of detecting cash, drugs, firearms and technology devices.

There can be occasions where the AFP is called to an incident – either on a plane or a terminal – but has not been informed of all the details before they arrive. For these reasons, we encourage the public to share information or footage with the AFP to help with incidents.

Separately, in March last year, the AFP re-booted its Airport Watch program as travel increased post-COVID 19.

Airport Watch aims to educate those working in and traveling through major airports about what should be reported and how.

The AFP encourages the public to call Airport Watch on 131 237 if they see or hear something unusual while working or travelling through one of the nation’s major airports.

Suspicious activity or unusual behaviour includes:

  • A person observed displaying an unusually keen interest in security procedures;
  • A person observed recording or taking photos in or around sensitive areas of the airport;
  • Anyone acting strangely or in an unusual manner;
  • Anyone heard asking questions to gain information about the airport; and
  • Anyone trying to gain unauthorised access to secure areas.

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