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
    +8

    Comment number 397.

    Can anyone explain to me how G4S justify charging £30,000 per person in the first place?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 396.

    ANOTHER HOME OFFICE MESS. The PASSPORT OFFICE is also using untrained staff to process the 200000 back log of applications. Promoted and getting paid a higher salary but NOT trained in the legislation and security issues needed.
    People are waiting MONTHS not weeks for passports. The Passport office is on the brink of collapse..again. The Home Office will deny it, they are misleading the public.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 395.

    What about the family arrangements soldiers may have in place for example school holidays. I tell you what, delay the olympics - the 80,000 seater stadium could then be filled with our reduced total army strength after the cut backs and we would not have a security problem. That is a sobering thought, our nations whole army fitting into just one stadium leaving us defenceless.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 394.

    At every olympic turn another disaster looms.

    These people couldn't organise a party in a distillery.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 393.

    Public beats Private any day! The Government are awful!

    ps I don't like the following: war, unemployment, really high taxes, politicians; but I do like: peace, employment, loads of money for everbody etc

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 392.

    Have a listen to this. Heard it before this story broke. I thought that the guy may have been over egging the problems but apparently not.

    Reporter 'Lee Hazeldean' (real name Ben Follows) Infiltrates Security Firm to Expose Possible False Terrorist Attack at London 2012 Olympic Games.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8aNnKfOiCc&fb_source=message

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 391.

    I blame Scotland - it's all a fiendish SNP plot

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 390.

    And to think I thought Brown's government to be gormless and incompetent. £30,000 to provide each security worker? G4S saw you coming Theresa May!

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 389.

    Theresa ( prrrr, leopard print shoes) May , is in my opinion, about as much use to the country as Home Secretary as a comb is, for William Hague's hairstyle !

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 388.

    353. Anthony Brookes
    I hope the troops are not visible because they will be viable targets for the terrorist bombers with thousands of the public nearby.
    --
    Because after all a suicide bomber who's taken his bomb to the olympics would much rather blow up 1 soldier than detonate himself in the crowd live on TV.....

    ..... some of the comments on this board are ridiculous.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 387.

    Theresa May says that?

    Time to be worried.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 386.

    I would suggest to the government that they go out and buy a whole lot of suits for these soldiers. Having 20,000 uniformed soldiers on the ground will give the impression that Britain is not a safe place to visit. And I trust that the soldiers will not be openly armed? It will look terrible, frankly.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 385.

    "I say, I say, I say...
    ...She was only the useless Home Secretary's daughter ...
    ... but she knew Theresa may" !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 384.

    @365, go back 200 years and that was the job of the 'army'. Need something built, dug, carried, destroyed, watched, chased... call the army.

    Does this potentially mean we're going full circle?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 383.

    One question that should be asked is how many ex-MPs and how many ex-civil servants to do this bunch of muppets have working for them, that might explain why they are given our money for a performance like this!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 382.

    41. Public sector work contracts are too often awarded to companies with bad reputations against the better judgment of the people who will actually have to work with them. They tender lower than they can afford to do the work, and jack up the cost when it's too late/wasteful to get rid of them. It's a disgrace, but it's also way more common than you'd think.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 381.

    ummmm SO HAS THIS GOT ANYTHING TO DO WITH REPORTS OF;

    "100,000 troops are coming in via Woolwich barracks made up of regular Army, American regular army and European troops.
    I also have this information confirmed by an army officer who was shocked at all the foreign troops coming into London.
    There is also a shipment of 200,000 casket linings, each casket can hold four or five people".....?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 380.

    not fit to govern..another incompetent mess,this time no one else to blame..how is may STILL IN THIS JOB.....imagine G4S replacing the police....is that 999 ??...yes..could i have some assistance please?.....could you call back in a fortnight?????.....cameron,may,hunt,osborne,lansley,pickles,warsi,hammond....second raters who should not be running our country...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 379.

    I think any sensible terrorist would turn their attentions to the other major cities in the UK whilst all eyes are trained on London. And who knows, if there is an attack the BBC might mention it amongst it's Olympic coverage.

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 378.

    183.casualobserver84

    Can anyone name a privatised industry that has actually performed well?

    er - i believe drug dealing, prostitution and merchant banking are all producing excellent profits and bonuses for those at the top.

 

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