Home » World News » Terrifying weapons passengers have tried to get on planes at a UK airport

Terrifying weapons passengers have tried to get on planes at a UK airport

From machine guns to knives and components to make a bomb – these are just some of the terrifying items confiscated from passengers trying to get on planes at a UK airport.

Security staff have seized a terrifying arsenal of weapons from customers attempt to board flights at Stansted Airport and say they are always on the look out for strange or unusual behaviour.

At least a tonne of goods – including food, beauty products, and other liquids – are confiscated each day by the team.

Essex Live reporter Paige Ingram spent a morning with staff at Stansted to understand more about the security procedures.

A lot has changed since Anita Harrison started as a part-time seasonal worker at Stansted Airport 14 years ago.


"To think back to people bringing bottles of wine – we used to smoke in the rest room air-side but you cringe now it just wouldn’t be allowed," Anita said.

Now head of security, she was the ideal person to take me through the process of ensuring our safety.

In June this year 2.6 million passengers passed through Stansted and a minimum of 12,000 bags are searched a day at the aiport.

To make the security process quicker two years ago 11 full body scanners were bought and installed.

Anita said: "The scanners allow us to do directive searches, they can pick up any heat that doesn’t look consistent with the rest of the body.

"They can detect drugs, weapons and other explosives quicker and safer than a stop a search could, but at the end of the day drugs aren’t going to bring a plane down."


All UK airports that screen more than 1 million passengers are required to have screenings, and 13 of the 22 lanes at Stansted have remote screening technology, making the process even faster.

Anita then took me into a back room where around 20 staff conduct the remote screening process.

The room was silent and each person had three computer screens showing; the X-ray image, a top down image and a side on image of each bag that passed through the machine.

On average each bag takes a member of staff nine seconds to process, and there were team leaders on hand monitoring the staff efficiency.

Staff in this area of security require such high levels of concentration that they are only required to work for 20 minutes before taking a ten minute break, and they can only do this for up to two hours a day.

Anita said: "Hopefully within the next two years all 22 lanes of security will have remote screening technology.


"You never ignore your gut, it’s called profiling, they look out for strange behaviour which really sticks out when there is a crowd of 5,000 people.”

All members of security at the airport undergo a three week training programme, which involves two weeks of theoretical based classroom learning and and a weeks practical work in the terminal.

In the training area is a cabinet containing items confiscated in the airport, including an array of large machine guns and knives.

"Different airports have different items in their cabinets because there is a different profile of passengers in each area," explained Carol Morgan a training officer.

Danny Hammond, also a training officer, said: "Just walking into the room and seeing the cabinets is a scary experience, I don’t think people expect to see them on display.

"While we display them whole, the training teaches them to recognise the different components of the bombs and guns not just the whole thing.

"The course makes them understand why we do the things we do and people often come out of the course changing the way they feel about security.



"We get a lot of ex prison officers that are used to doing hands-on strip searches, and we have to try to change their mindset, it’s all about getting to know the environment so when something isn’t normal it sticks out.”

As you might imagine, with 14 years’ experience at the airport Anita has seen it all.

"Once a woman came through security wearing a big fur coat, she was asked to take it off and she was a bit reluctant, after being asked again she took it off and she was completely naked underneath," she said.

"Once a guy saw a plane on the runway and he thought it was his so he pressed the fire alarm thinking it would stop it taking off without him, police were called and it created a massive scene.”

Anita’s team also work closely with the police when a passenger breaches security but also the RSPCA when animals are involved.

She said: "Once I remember a man tried to smuggle two budgies in a cage in his rucksack and our team only noticed it because they saw a water drip straw.

"Another strange one was a passenger carved out the bottom of their suitcase filled it with water and put live lobsters inside, we have also had giant crabs in bags too, and a man who tried to smuggle a chameleon by hiding it in his pocket."



Anita revealed that the team aim to get each passenger through security within ten to 15 seconds, but said that varies according on the season.

Anita said: "In winter it takes people a lot longer because they wear all their coats and a lot more layers so they take up more trays at security.”

The airport is at its busiest between 4-7am then 10am and then again at 4pm with Friday mornings and Sunday evenings being the busiest times of the week.

Mark Davison, head of media, added: "We get a lot of stag and hen dos, people tend to travel for a long weekend thats why Sunday is not the sleepy day in air travel- its the busiest day."

In the run up to Christmas 47,000 to 48,000 passengers pass through Stansted, but on Christmas day only ten to 15 flights leave the airport.

Anita said: "We put up Christmas lights, the staff wear Christmas jumpers, we have choir singers, its a much different vibe here."


She added: "At least a tonne of goods are confiscated every day, its unfortunate really because people have clearly gone and bought really lovely things, like Tiptee jam and tinned fruit and we get lots of Marmite because they don’t sell it in the rest of Europe.”

For the last two years the airport has donated the confiscated food to Harlow Food Bank.

Anita said: "We don’t want anyone to lose an item, but we teamed up with the Harlow Food Bank because its a good community thing to do, we either throw it away or reuse it, and we would rather it be reused."

The Harlow Food bank, located on Housham Hall Farm, operates a 5000sq foot warehouse, and receives around four to five tonnes of donations from the airport each year.

Gary Knott, co-founder and director of the Michael Roberts Charitable Trust, which operates the food bank, is hopeful that other airports will follow suit.


He said: "It’s criminal when you hear about food being thrown away, so when Stansted Airport approached us with the idea it was a no-brainer, we were really keen to get involved.

"We have had all sorts of food donated, from baked beans,peanut butter and marmite to the top range jams from Buckingham Palace and Harrods.

"We put together a dedicated team of volunteers called ‘the all sorts’ who go to the airport every week and sort through the range of foods, they check their use by date, clean the packaging if it needs cleaning and discard any broken or open items.

"I think Stansted is quite a forerunner for recycling, it’s working well so far and I hope other airports will come forward and join in."

So next time your items get confiscated at security, whether it be food, drink or toiletries, and you watch as staff throw them in a red dustbin, know they being reused and going to help those in need.

Source: Read Full Article