Airport Security S8: Rome

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Airport Security S8: Rome

The general public tends to see airport security as a general hassle, obsessed with taking your water bottles and nail-clippers. As thankless as their job is, airport security personnel have an important job: to keep their country safe from criminals. At the Rome-Fiumicino International Airport, that responsibility is not only to Rome and the Vatican City. Thanks to their free movement policies, the whole of the EU must also be protected.

The Rome-Fiumicino International Airport, also known as the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, is one of the busiest in all of Europe. It served over 43.5 million passengers in 2019. Detecting and preventing crime with that much foot traffic is a mountainous challenge, but the Italian State Police are up to the task.

Smuggling narcotics through customs can land you in prison for years. Security personnel get tasked with finding illegal drugs no matter how creatively or disgustingly they’re hidden. Confiscated drugs get destroyed, and would-be smugglers get arrested and charged.

People also try to get themselves through customs illegally. For whatever reason, they choose to pay a counterfeiter for a fake passport instead of going through the proper channels. Security personnel get trained to detect these phoney documents and anyone caught trying to sneak into the country are sent back from whence they came.

Despite drug trafficking and illegal immigration getting the most media attention, the most common crimes committed in airports tend to be thefts. Along with shoplifting and “other thefts”, anti-social behaviour is a common nuisance at airports.

The majority of crimes committed on airport grounds are non-violent, but instances of assault and sexual offence occur, along with the occasional possession of weapons.

Whatever the crime, it’s up to airport security to prevent and put a stop to it. In this season of Airport Security, we see how the Romans do.

Thursdays at 7 PM on National Geographic (ch 220) from Thursday, 15 July

Author: Jan Hendrik Harmse