There are currently nine airports “designated” under the Aviation Security Act 1982 for policing purposes—London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow International, Prestwick, Aberdeen, Manchester and Birmingham. At these airports the airport operator is required to meet the costs of the agreed uniformed police presence. At non-designated airports, they either have a dedicated uniformed police presence or the police attend when there is an operational need to do so. These costs are funded wholly or partly by the police authority in which that airport is located, or by other means, for example, voluntary contributions by the airport operator. The cost of uniformed police officers at each airport is therefore not held centrally.
The Home Office Dedicated Security Posts (DSP) Grant provides the central contribution to the policing costs for of specific security functions, including the Special Branch presence at ports. The grants paid to police forces towards the costs of funding their Special Branch officers at ports in financial years 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 were £70.6 million, £71.4 million and £72.6 million respectively. Figures prior to these dates were not compiled in the same way and it is therefore not possible to provide data in a comparable form.
The allocation of the DSP grant by airport is not disclosed since to do so could prejudice border security by revealing how Special Branch officers are deployed for counter terrorism purposes. Moreover, chief constables are responsible for the deployment of Special Branch officers at airports within their force area, and deployment patterns may change during the year for operational reasons.