Operation Phoenix Launches in Kent

20 April 2010, 11:59 | Updated: 20 April 2010, 12:47

Police in Kent want to know if we see any strange things going on at airfields or helipads in the county.

It's part of their increase in border security, particularly in the lead up to the Olympic games in London in 2012.

There are around 120 public and private airfields and helipads in Kent, and two years ago police set up Operation Phoenix to monitor them more closely.

Now they want all of us to report any suspicious activity like:

  • Flying very slowly and low
  • Flying, taking off or landing at odd times such as in the early hours of the morning
  • Circling

Heart's been told that things like this could indicate crimes linked to terrorism or organised crime like drug or people smuggling.

In December last year a French national was jailed for four years after smuggling seven illegal immigrants into the UK.

Eric Adrien Laou-Hap, 39, flew into Maidstone’s Laddingford Airport in a light aircraft Piper Cherokee and landed without permission.

The immigrants were spotted running away from the aircraft by the airport manager who immediately informed police. At first Laou-Hap claimed the reason he had landed at the airport without permission was because he had engine problems, but later admitted to bringing the people into the country illegally.

Frontier Operations Detective Inspector Charlie Stokes said: “We would like the public to be our additional eyes and ears in a bid to keep Kent safe and maintain a good quality of life.

“It takes only 10 minutes to fly across the English Channel.

“The community can play an important part in intelligence gathering and helping us investigate illegal aviation and associated crimes simply by knowing what comprises suspicious activity and reporting it.

“One of the most effective ways to counter terrorism, for instance, is through local engagement and involving many different sections of our local communities.

“I would encourage people to report suspicious behaviour, no matter how small or insignificant they feel it is.

“Kent Police is determined to tackle all forms of border crime and the message to people who threaten our security and break the law is simply if you think you can get away with it think again. Whoever and wherever you are we will deal with you."

The poster (pictured) is being put up in Kent to raise awareness.

Anyone who does see something suspicious should call 01622 960960