Over 20 people have been caught in possession of a weapon at Doncaster Sheffield Airport over the last five years, figures reveal.
The incidents are among 149 crimes which have been recorded by police at the airport in Finningley since 2012. Police say anyone caught committing crime at the site will be dealt with robustly, and the figures have been described as remaining low despite major passenger growth
Dealing with the offences has been the job of a dedicated team of officers who are specially based full time at the airport, who look after the site seven days a week.
The team is made up of a sergeant and four constables. They are supported by South Yorkshire Police specialist armed officers, who routinely patrol the airport on various patterns seven days a week.
Figures obtained from South Yorkshire Police in a Freedom of Information request showed 11 offences of possession of a firearm, and 10 of possession of other weapons, with police putting this down to tight security procedures at the site.
But the largest single offence recorded was described as other theft or unauthorised taking, with 45 cases, most of them recorded between 2014 and 2015.
The first half of 2017 saw a rise in cases of public fear, alarm or distress under the public order act. Officers believe this may due to increased concerns among the public because of terrorism across the world.
Chief Insp Iain Chorlton from South Yorkshire Police said the team responded to a wide range of incidents - but most frequently they were called upon to deal with incidents of public disorder, antisocial behaviour and theft.
He said: “In addition, the team play an integral role in responding to concerns of suspected human trafficking, which is a growing area of criminality that South Yorkshire Police are working hard alongside other agencies to combat.
“The arrests of individuals for possession of weapons are largely as a result of the existing search and security procedures in place, with most weapons found this way.
“Of course, carrying a weapon or an item that could be used as a weapon is not permissible and against the law, so to tackle this there is security screening for all passengers, staff and visitors. This is reinforced by staff training, passenger education and awareness raising.
“While there could be many reasons behind the rise in cases of public alarm, fear or distress, it is likely that the increase in terrorism-related incidents across the country (and the world) and associated media and social media coverage has played a significant role in increasing anxiety among the public.
“I’d like to reassure the public that we have dedicated officers who work incredibly hard alongside partners at the airport to ensure the safety and security of everyone there and anyone caught engaging in criminality will be dealt with robustly.”
A spokesman for Doncastere Sheffield Airport spokesperson said: “Our passenger numbers have significantly increased over recent years, growing 80 per cent over the last 3 years to 1.25 million last year so we are pleased to see against that backdrop, offences recorded have remained low. However our focus remains on continually working to ensure a safe and secure environment for our customers, our staff and anyone who is visiting the airport site.
Crimes recorded at Doncaster Sheffield Airport Jan 2012 to June 30 2017:
Arson not endangering life 1; Assault with injury 4; Assault without injury 3; Criminal damage - other 3; Criminal damage - to other buildings 1; Criminal damage - to vehicles 3; Harrassment 1; Other notifiable offence 25; Other offence against the state or public order 1; Other theft or unauthorised taking 25; Possession of article with blade or point 12; Possession of controlled drugs (cannabis) 10; Possession of firearms offences 11; Possession of other weapons 10; Public fear alarm or distress 7; Shoplifting 7; Theft by an employee 2; Theft from motor vehicle 2; Threats to kill 1.