Security at Gran Canaria airport at stake, police union claims

by Lorraine Williamson
airport security

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Due to a shortage of police officers at Gran Canaria airport and an outdated computer system to identify foreign citizens, long lines and security are at stake. 

This is what the Alternativa Sindical Policia union claims. Using the ARGOS computer system, foreign citizens are identified upon entry, and criminals are prevented from entering the country. However, the Ministry of the Interior has tendered the maintenance of the computer system for €4.4 billion. 

Shortage of national police officers at the airport 

Union members express to their concern about “the shortage of national police officers at Gran Canaria International Airport. This is causing long waits in identifying foreign citizens – particularly travellers from the UK after Brexit. 

Crash computer system 

According to the police union ASP, a similar “crash” of the ARGOS system to the one at Las Palmas airport would also have occurred at other national airports, including Madrid. Therefore, the organisation believes that “the constant updating and maintenance of the ARGOS program is very necessary. It is an essential tool to identify citizens through their DNI or passport. The purpose of this is to trace people with criminal records using international searches. 

Prevent criminals from entering the country 

ASP points in particular to the importance of the system for identifying non-EU passengers, who come from countries outside the European Union – in addition to immigrants who initially arrived in small boats – trying to enter Spain. “Citizens hope that there will not be more crime coming in than there is already in Spain, but also that criminals with a criminal record do not leave the country so that they cannot escape the Spanish justice”. 

Faults endanger safety 

“For border control workers, the ARGOS program is fundamental in providing security guarantees for both police officers and civilians. However, at Gran Canaria airport, far too often, officers have faced system failures, despite it being potentially vital” a spokesperson told 

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Especially British 

“Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Airport is the fifth largest airport in the country in terms of passenger numbers, after Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Palma de Mallorca, and Málaga. In 2021, seven million passengers passed through. A large part of those passengers were British tourists who have to pass the customs control. 

On the busiest days, such as Saturday afternoons, the officers hardly have time to go to the toilet, says the spokesperson for ASP. And then no one should be sick or drop out for other reasons. If that happens, the rows will become even longer than they already are. 

Schengen Evaluation Commission” 

In February 2022, a Schengen Evaluation Commission was formed, consisting of the countries that are members of the Schengen Treaty. The committee’s task is to evaluate all boundaries. It is therefore important that airports and the ARGOS system work at a national level. In addition, there must be control at the European level through modern equipment and good facilities. However, the reports of the Schengen Committee are not yet mandatory. 

According to ASP, the main claim is that there is “insufficient staff to cover the long and tedious shifts that take place at this airport”. “Ultimately, everything affects the quality of the police’s work. That is why we must emphasize the urgent need for people at the border posts.” 

Also read: Chaos at Gran Canaria airport

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