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Terror threat: local airports raise security

AS police continue to arrest suspected terrorists in and around major UK airports, security has been stepped up significantly at Farnborough Airfield and at nearby Blackbushe Airport.

Special Branch officers from Hampshire patrol the local airfields, along with airfield security staff, and extra officers have been deployed this week.

Supt Joe Apps, who is head of the North-East Hampshire police division, said a Special Branch sergeant and six Special Branch constables have been assigned to Farnborough and Blackbushe, and they will be carrying out thorough checks.

Supt Apps said there had been no specific threat to this area, but people in and around the airfields will be stopped and questioned.

The overall message is that it is business as usual, despite the heightened tension.

“The officers will be on duty at the airfields and surrounding roads, and with security staff will be meeting and greeting people turning up for business flights,” he said.

“We want to assure people that we are taking the threat of terrorism very seriously and are employing extra staff commensurate with that threat.

“We are asking people to be vigilant, and if they see anything they think is suspicious to call us.

“Our experience has been that when people are stopped and questioned about terrorism they are more reassured than alarmed.”

Ann Barteby of TAG Aviation, which runs Farnborough Airfield, confirmed that there is always round the clock protection.

She said: “The security is always very tight and we always have a presence — 24 hours a day.

“Our own security staff are always on site and we also have Special Branch police here. Their numbers vary but this week there are substantially more Special Branch policemen here.”

Mrs Barteby said the decision to step up protection was taken by the police and they will decide how long the extra Special Branch cover will be in place.

“Our own security staff are in place at our two gates — it will soon be just one gate — and they check everyone who is seeking to come on site.

“Security is taken very seriously here and the extra Special Branch cover is reassuring.

Vigilance is the message here.”

Airfield manager Graham Wood would not add to this short statement: “As you would expect, the necessary precautions have been taken in consultation with Hampshire Police and other security agencies.”

Both Farnborough and Blackbushe are used primarily for business and private flights.

Airports across the UK have been on high alert since the government revealed it had received intelligence terrorists were planning an attack to coincide with end of the Muslim Eid festival.

The security alert was sparked by intelligence suggesting terrorists were planning to shoot down a plane.

Security services received information at the start of last week about a missile attack at Heathrow.

Around 1,700 police officers and 450 soldiers were deployed to Heathrow, while armed police patrolled other UK airports.

There have also been scares at Heathrow and Gatwick, with both airports being evacuated.

l A hostage who was used as part of Saddam Hussein’s ‘human shield’ during the 1990 Gulf War has told the Mail we should go to war with Iraq.

Wendy Major, of Camberley, believes troops missed a perfect opportunity 12 years ago and the same mistake should not be made this time around.

Reacting to the escalating situation in Iraq, Wendy said that Saddam should be removed from power by whatever means available.

During the Gulf War in 1990 she and her father were taken hostage while living in Kuwait.

They were imprisoned in a British army camp positioned next to an oil refinery.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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