Olympics security not compromised, Theresa May says


Theresa May: 'No specific threat to games'

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There is "no question" of Olympics security being compromised, the home secretary has said, after it emerged 3,500 extra servicemen would be needed.

Theresa May said it was discovered only on Wednesday - 16 days before the Games begin - that contractor G4S did not have enough trained security staff.

The servicemen are in addition to 7,500 already agreed for venue security.

Labour MP Keith Vaz said: "G4S has let the country down and we have literally had to send in the troops."

G4S was contracted by the London 2012 Organising Committee to supply 10,400 staff out of the 23,700 security staff needed for the Games.

It said it had 4,000 people already working across 100 venues.

It also said there were a further 9,000 people going through the final stages of extensive training, vetting and accreditation.

It is understood that it was training more people than their contract required to make up for any shortfall in staff taking up their posts.

"We have encountered some delays in progressing applicants through the final stages but we are working extremely hard to process these as swiftly as possible," the company said.

The remaining security staff were to be made up of 7,500 from the military, and about 5,800 students and volunteers.

Mrs May addressed the Commons in response to an urgent question from Mr Vaz about the safety during the Olympics.

'Most important' task

Mrs May responded: "I can confirm to the House that there remains no specific security threat to the Games and the threat level remains unchanged.

"And let me reiterate that there is no question of Olympic security being compromised."

Mrs May said Britain had the "finest military personnel in the world".

Keith Vaz quizzed Theresa May on why "we literally had to send in the troops"

"They stand ready to do their duty whatever the nation may ask. Our troops are highly skilled and highly trained and this task is the most important facing our nation today," she said.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the scale of the problem should have been recognised sooner.

She welcomed the decision to bring in extra servicemen, but added: "This really looks like another huge Home Office shambles."

In a statement, Downing Street warned the company should face consequences for its failure to fulfil its contract - for which it is being paid £284m.

The London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) said it was not commenting on contractual arrangements with G4S.

'Adverse impact'

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond said he had authorised the deployment of the 3,500 military personnel, bringing the total number of military personnel - from three services and including reservists - contributing to Games security to 17,000.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

Personnel had already begun to be deployed to venues "to support the rolling search and lock-down process between now and the start of the Olympics, alongside the police, the commercial security provider, G4S, and volunteers," he said in his written ministerial statement to Parliament.

Eleven thousand of them will be involved in security at around 30 sporting venues, carrying out checks at venue gates and doing bag checks, and some 70 non-competition venues, including car parks and hotels.

Some 5,000 personnel will be in specialist roles, such as bomb disposal squads, special forces and the London missile sites, with a further 1,000 involved in logistical support.

Mr Hammond said the Chiefs of Staff supported the deployment, adding it would not have an adverse impact on other operations.

"We will ensure that all those taking part receive their full leave entitlement, even if it has to be rescheduled, that no-one is out of pocket due to cancelled personal arrangements and that all deployed personnel are appropriately supported," he said.

Mrs May gave further details, saying 10,000 Olympic and Paralympic tickets had been donated to the armed services, there was access for 2,000 spectators in the Mall for road events, and troops had the right to buy 2,000 Olympic Park tickets.

Troops at the Olympic Village, Stratford

Start Quote

The heavy military presence at the Olympic Park will likely divide opinion”

End Quote

Also, 7,000 tickets had been offered to the servicemen for the dress rehearsals of the opening and closing ceremonies.

Mr Hammond later told the defence select committee that the deployment request had come "as no great surprise".

He told MPs it became clear that some extra servicemen would be needed two weeks ago when the beginning of the lock-down at the park started.

He said the servicemen had their "notice to move" reduced at the weekend, which informed them of imminent deployment. All of the extra servicemen had been on standby for such a contingency.

The news of extra servicemen came ahead of the chief inspector of borders raising fresh concerns about the border controls at Heathrow in the run-up to the Olympics.

Chief Inspector of Borders John Vine said some staff were not dealing with arriving passengers efficiently or effectively enough and that forged documents could be going undetected.

Downing Street said G4S's inability to provide enough security for the Olympics was "unfortunate".

The prime minister's spokesman said a joint military-civilian security operation was always envisaged at the Olympics and "we are happy to change that balance."

The spokesman said the government would meet the cost of the redeployment of the servicemen but refused to say whether Locog would force G4S to recompense the taxpayer.

Mrs May said the government remained confident the venue security costs would remain within the £553m budget.

One woman, Catherine Roberts, said she was now unemployed after being turned down for a position with G4S in Cardiff, despite being given two weeks of training in London in June.

She said although she was told she had passed all the necessary tests and training, her employment was terminated - first because she was told she had failed a course and then because of incorrect documentation.

"The money they have wasted on sending me to London and through courses that cost £200 to then lay me off is ridiculous. I am absolutely gutted as I have been left jobless with no way of paying for my rent."

The company was also one of four contractors bidding to take over some services for Surrey Police, but the region's police authority voted on Thursday to suspend the plan - and is now thinking of scrapping it entirely.

Members of Surrey Police Authority were unhappy about G4S's failure to recruit enough guards for the Olympics.

Meanwhile, MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee have warned in their annual report that the Olympics have put Britain's intelligence and security agencies under "unprecedented pressure".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1017.

    @832 they cant complain. It would be classed as insubordination and the soldier would be jailed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1016.

    i wonder how much the G4S have donated to the tory party how many peers have cozy directorships withing one of their myriad of bussiness remember these people are just BOUNCERS with ties paying them selves millions in bonus whilst taking public sector jobs on the cheep and remember they subcontracted to the doormen who left those jobseekers on the streets of London during the Jubilee shysters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.

    Interesting that the BBC chose to ignore journalist Ben Fellows' shocking allegations when working undercover for G4S - and decided instead to make a documentary about an 'alien invasion' during the Olympics.. They wouldn't touch it, but now that Fellows been on multiple talk radio shows and the word has gotten out; the Government has no choice but to act, and the BBC has fallen in line.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.

    932. SuidwesBoerseun
    Who cares?

    I do. Lot's of people do. Your inability to think through this issue to see the way we are being shafted by private sector companies who seem able to renege on their contracts and leave the public purse to clear up the mess is probably part of our problem as a nation in that you're probably not alone. How depressing

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    I don't really see a clear difference between those in power, the very wealthy & criminals. They all make money and its coming from us. Politicians may be worse, they (in this case) use fear to justify what seems to many as robbery. Are we safe??? Safe from whom/what? Missiles on roof tops to strengthen their claim....bunk. IMHO

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    In my opinion, the Olympics were *always* a joke! £10 Billion or more for stuff that ultimately can be done in a park somewhere, whilst our elderly are forced to sell their homes, we have 1 million youth unemployed and are one of the world's most indebted nations..? And I'm "right wing"..?

    Pfft. Besides, I'm sorry, but it was Labour who told us it'd "only" cost £2 billion, not the Tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    I can just hear it now...

    "G4S welcome a full enquiry and will fully support the lessons learned to enable an improved customer service in future events such as Olympics..."

    If you are big, affluent and well connected in this country you can get away with anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    I see the loony left are out tonight and the short memory fickle voters who forget who setup the olympic contracts in the first place and the main cause of our economic debacle. i.e. The Labour party

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    I think the sponsors should fujnd the security and the security should be provided by Public Service, i.e. the police, NHS etc
    The Olympics gets more and more like a professional sports event every year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    954. Ron
    924. Bobby
    The police will be staying ion nice hotels since their minimum standard is on suite single rooms. The Mil will be in old factories sleeping on camp beds.

    Mis-information again, Tom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.


    "I've just come back from Afghanistan, now going to London "Unwillingly". Once I've finished telling people where to park, I will be sending G4S a bill for the labour I'm putting in."

    We done mate, we're proud of you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    As part of cost cutting police forces are seeking to employ companies such as G4S to carry out work that has been done by qualified police officers. If they cannot staff up for the Olympics what evidence is there that they can staff up to support police services?


    Services will suffer, costs will rise, the public will be placed at risk!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    Some views here seen to think this is all blown up (pun intended) out of all proportion.
    There is a serious issue to consider though,have the G4S executives managed to secure their big fat bonuses before this news was released ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    994. Lord_Raiden
    You are correct in one aspect, the Olympics has become a joke.

    You must either be enormously wealthy or one of an unfortunate number of victims of right-wing media brainwashing

    I suspect you are the latter and I offer a degree of empathy. Maybe if you understood the philosophical rationale that runs through the Tory party ideal you'd understand you are being used?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    Locog are remarkably quiet.
    They are the ones that gave G4S the contract.
    They will possibly suggest an inquiry.
    But we are still waiting the results of many other inquiries, as such sweat shop labor being used to make olympic mascots and uniforms.
    They have also sold off the olympic village at a loss.
    It seems they are answerable to no-one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    If I were in the armed forces, I'd be feeling pretty bitter at the moment. One day they are wanted to put their lives on the line, next day it's on yer bike. the country don't need you anymore, next day, get back quick, we need you at the games. Shameful treatment of these people. Tonight, we see Boris saying how wonderful a spectacle it will be seeing all those soldiers in their uniforms. Idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.


    "This is an absolute shambles. Does anyone smell a general election coming on ?"

    Oh Yes!! My nostrils are flaring, picking up the stench of incompetence, panic and fear.

    Beware though. These people do not let go of power just like that. Be prepared for lies and blame projection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    Strange how quiet they are trying to keep this one after May's & co trying to slide G4S outfit into policing on the cheap while undermining police officers pay and pensions.
    Don't forget Tom Winsor is also now overseeing the police but also on the payroll as Lawyer for G4S so expect another whitewash or deflection to protect the usual 'nod & a wink' gang

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    ... and would GAURDIAN56 please stop shouting. Appreciate you points but...Calm down dear, it's only a forum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.


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