Whatever happened to holiday buzz? Bag theft, violence and sexual offers make Manchester Airport crime hotspot

By Robbie Gill

For most, the airport is the first stop on your holidays, you drop off your bags and unwind in one of the many airport bars.

A visit to Manchester Airport over the last five years could open your eyes to a range incidents that are not synonymous with the holiday buzz.

Sexual indecency, theft and personal violence are rife at Manchester Airport – with more than 200 incidents in the last five years.

Figures reveal 105 incidents of personal violence, 11 incidents of sexual indecency, 85 thefts, and five public order and suspicious behavior offences.

Most worrying are the 22 offences against members of staff and Public and Commercial Services Union’s North West organiser Peter Middleton blasted the perpetrators.

He said: “PCS takes the health, safety and welfare of its members very seriously and works with Airport authorities and agencies to ensure that risks and hazards are routinely assessed and managed.

“Incidents of assault and verbal abuse from passengers are too common and should not be tolerated but we recognise that they can explained by delays arising from staff shortages and other government cuts.

“We will continue to argue for well-resourced public services at airports and elsewhere in order to ensure high standards of service delivery are maintained.”

Numerous staff members have been verbally and physically assaulted, another had a drink thrown in their face while one was head butted by another member of staff.

Another former employee had to be escorted from the premises when they broke into the staff kitchen, assaulted a member of staff before escaping to throw more punches.

One disgruntled customer threw a drink in the face of a Thompson rep and a phone containing indecent images was found in the staff room.

An argument between two more holiday makers became so heated that a woman had to inform police that her boyfriend had assaulted her at the check-in desk.

An airport bus driver was the victim of an assault by a man who subsequently fled the scene in his car.

Some incidents of violence have even spilled onto aircraft, with police called to one incident where intoxicated passengers came to blows minutes before takeoff.

Incidents in the airport are the responsibility of the airport police – who deal with incidents according to normal procedure – and they believe that incidents of crime have not increased.

A police spokesman from the airport said that there has not been an increase in crime generally or assaults on staff, officers, members of the public. He also said there is no evidence of the number of thefts rising.

He added: “We have police that are based at the airport and if any crimes or incidents are reported to us, then we will attend, investigate and deal with these incidents accordingly.”

The total of annual incidents has risen from 38 in 2008 to 50 in 2011 and figures for 2012 showed 32 incidents by the end of October.

There have been more than 20 incidents of sexual indecency or assault over the last five years including incidents involving staff and passengers.

One member of staff was sexually assaulted by another whilst cleaning a plane while one passenger stripped naked on a flight and had to be chased through the airport.

One man was propositioned in the toilet and another woman was sexually assaulted on the bus from the plane to the terminal.

An incident where a male grabbed a 10-year-old child took place in the toilets before running away, and another male exposed himself to children in the car park.

Another male was caught exposing himself to a group of children in the car park before fleeing quickly in his car.

Indecent images have been found on four phones and two women have been inappropriately stroked and propositioned while waiting for their flights.

There has only been one incident of suspicious behaviour reported with the passenger in question refusing to show documentation and had to be detained.

There has been only one incident of drunken behaviour for which the police have been called with the passenger attempting to force his way through a boarding gate.

Theft has also exploded at the airport, with smart phones and iPads amongst the most common items snatched.

There have been nearly 90 incidents of theft with most items swiped from unattended bags and others from luggage carousels.

Gangs of pickpockets are also operational at the airport with opportunist thieves capitalising on the relaxed frame of mind of holiday makers.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “We take incidents of this nature very seriously and work closely with the support organisations on site such as the Police to ensure incidents are dealt with appropriately.

We regularly remind passengers of their own responsibilities when traveling and we work closely with our airline partners to ensure a safe environment for all at the airport.”

Picture courtesy of newbierunner, with thanks

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