In the past, the need for a coordinating body of law enforcement units at the European airports was raised repeatedly. Already existing intra-European police partnerships such as Atlas, Railpol, Aquapol, Tispol and others had, at several occasions, proven to generate a surplus value and underline the ever-growing importance of European law enforcement cooperation. Although the airport and aviation sector is the environment where the need for international cooperation can be sensed at its utmost, surprisingly enough no structural cooperation had been elaborated in this domain.
In 2010 the first initiatives were taken to set up such a network of law enforcement agencies. Visits to various police- & border guard units all over Europe were undertaken, to determine the exact needs for such a forum. Open discussions with several stakeholders lead to interesting points of view and encouraging input from different sides. The Belgian EU-Presidency offered a unique opportunity to lay the foundation of the AIRPOL Project. A EU-resolution recognising and supporting the AIRPOL Network was the concrete outcome.
In April 2011, the European Commission formally granted the requested financial support under the ISEC-programme 'Prevention of and Fight against Crime 2010' for the AIRPOL Project. This grant marked the official start of the project and since then a number of concrete activities have been realised, leading to the building up of a permanent, functional and operational network of airport related law enforcement agencies.
In the young existence of the network the need for a network has been confirmed repeatedly. The number of unplanned activities has risen significantly and still increases.
A second ISEC-funding has been granted in the course of 2013, guaranteeing the continuation of the AIRPOL Network. The strategic focus for the next two years lies on the consolidation, the strengthening and the further operational exploitation of our network.
The AIRPOL framework has been created; hopefully all involved law enforcement units will actively participate in and benefit from the network.