Ports Unit

The Thames Valley Police area contains approximately 140 diverse operational airfields from small flying clubs to busy commercial and military airports.

The South East Counter Terrorism Unit is responsible for national security matters and, as such, ports policing forms part of that role. The unit is particularly interested in any intelligence relating to terrorism and serious and organised crime. We work closely with the UK Borders Agency in respect of Immigration and Customs and Excise matters.

Legislation

The Terrorism Act 2000 (as amended by the Crime and Security Act 2001) requires that all aircraft entering/leaving the mainland of Great Britain to or from Northern Ireland, Eire, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Common Travel Area [CTA]) must call at a designated port.

The exception to this rule is if the pilot gives at least 12 hours notice in writing to the police force, in whose area he is landing or departing from, of his intention to use a non-designated port.

This enables various security checks to be completed and allows the police such time if appropriate to examine the aircraft and crew. The obligation to give notice is imposed upon the 'captain' of the aircraft and it is an offence to fly without such notice being given.

It is an offence under the Act to fail to comply with this requirement.

Thames Valley Police applies the following policy to meet the requirements of the Act in respect of non-designated Ports (airfields) within its force area.

In relation to all proposed CTA flights to or from non-designated ports, the captain/pilot must complete page one of the General Aviation Report (GAR) and submit this to us, giving at least 12 hours prior notification.

The option does exist for those wishing to fly at very short notice to use a designated Port.

As a matter of best practice, we also recommend that, if you are flying from a Thames Valley non-designated airfield to any destination outside of mainland UK, you should submit a GAR form to the Ports Unit of Thames Valley Police.

Please click on the link below to open a General Aviation Report (GAR) form which you can fill in online. Once you have completed the GAR form, please press ‘Submit’ and the form will attach to an email for you to send to the Ports Unit.

View General Aviation Report (GAR) form (PDF 590 Kb - opens new window).

Below is a link to the instructions on how to fill in a GAR form.

We prefer to receive your GAR form electronically. However, if you are unable to do this, you can still fax a GAR form to 01865 555900.

The Unit works closely with other agencies, in particular the Immigration Service and HM Revenue and Customs. However, we do not, as a matter of course, copy on any GAR notifications to these agencies, and recommend that you advise them as per their legal requirements independently of any notifications sent to us.

Examination of flights

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act gives the police powers to examine any flight arriving or departing any airfield irrespective of its destination - this includes internal flights within the UK.

How can you help?

  • As a pilot/owner - by being aware of your responsibilities and complying with them.
  • By being vigilant and notifying us of anything suspicious.
  • By using the statutory and voluntary flight notification forms to assist us in monitoring General Aviation flights to and from the relevant areas.

Project Pegasus

Project Pegasus is a multi-agency initiative to enhance the reporting structure within the aviation community. The aim is to increase vigilance to make it more difficult for terrorists and organised criminals to operate across borders and to reduce illegal immigration and smuggling into the United Kingdom.

UK Police, The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) are working together on Project Pegasus to raise awareness and increase the exchange of information and intelligence between border policing partners and the aviation sector.

Project Pegasus leaflet (PDF 1.34 Mb - opens new window).

Project Pegasus poster (PDF 566 Kb - opens new window).

If you notice anything unusual

  • Do not get involved.
  • Do not touch any suspicious packages.
  • Make a note of any registration number, markings or descriptions.
  • Call the Ports Unit/police immediately.

What to look out for

  • Evidence of unauthorised activity at your airstrip – for example, fresh tyre marks and tampering with equipment.
  • Packages being transferred from an aircraft to a vehicle in unusual locations such as a remote part of an airfield or by strangers.
  • Activity or sightings of aircraft at night or on unused airstrips.
  • Strangers trying to hire your aircraft - or those belonging to other club members.
  • Strangers using, or seeking permission to use, your airstrip.
  • Evidence of adaptation of aircraft for concealment purposes.

Contact the Ports Unit

The Ports Unit can be contacted on 01865 555 909 during office hours - the phone will divert to the Force control room after these hours. Alternatively, you can email the Ports Unit. In an emergency, always call 999.