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 437.

    Typical British Government, can't organise a pillow fight in a dormitory, but as ever expect HM Forces to bail them out in times of crisis.
    How are HM Forces repaid for such loyalty to our country and probably some of them losing their summer leave?
    By having their numbers reduced year on year.
    Pure folly from successive governments, expecting them to do more with less on a yearly basis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Perhaps if we were not quite so quick to send our brave boys and girls to far away places to 'sort the locals out' we wouldn't need quite so many security people in the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Why not use this opertunity as a get back to work scheme, take some of the jobless off the dole, give them the training and G4S contracts two birds one stone you know the saying

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    G4S, or Group 4 Security.

    The very same bunch of muppets that lost prisoners in transit.

    It's hard to believe they were awarded the Olympic contract on an arms length basis isn't it.?. Very hard to believe!!!!

  • Comment number 433.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    Once again the private sector has shown why it should not be trusted with public matters, to rank alongside hospital cleaning, utility mangement, transportation. When will government learn ?

    When the bribes... sorry "political donations"... stop rolling in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    So we've decided to make soldiers redundant because we can't afford them any more. The private sector is supposed to be the bees knees as far as the ConDems are concerned but give them a proper job to do and they can't deliver. Surely it is G4S's problem to sort out and not our poor undervalued soldiers. G4S should foot the bill for the extra soldiers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Isn't all this just a tad OTT? I mean, 17000 troops. Thats nearly twice as many as we have in the whole of Afghanistan! Plus thousands of security personnel, all just to protect and small part of London?!

    What is it, first stop Stratford next stop Damascus?

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    Nothing would surprise me, i have been working for the last 17 months on the Olympics and witnessed first hand the shambolic nature of the whole process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    G4S have no excuse for this failure. As a profesional and established business they should have known what was required to provide adequate security services for an event like the olympics

    It is clear that G4s tried to cut corners and failed.

    G4S (inc shareholders and directors) should pay the full cost of deploying troops to fix this shortfal

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    G4S are a joke. The taliban would probably provide better security at the olympics

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    #419 Exactly. Whether there's soldiers there or not will make no difference to the desire of certain people to carry out attacks. The idea that having soldiers on security duties will suddenly inspire attacks that wouldn't otherwise happen is ridiculous.

    Fortunately the actual abilities of our domestic terrorists (white & muslim) is usually pretty minimal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    "And I trust that the soldiers will not be openly armed? It will look terrible, frankly."

    Not half as terrible as a re-enactment of Munich in 1972 would look. You would prefer them to use a less threatening form of deterrent - harsh language, perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    The government is encouraging scaremongering so that, after a not particularly notable Olympics, they will say;
    "Didn't we do really well, brilliant Olympics, coping with all those problems too ?"
    And people will believe them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    410. Littlefork
    What we do not know (and should not know) is whether additional intelligence recently gathered, requires such a bolstering of security.

    I think you misunderstand "security". You obviously haven't been to a big event recently. Security means making sure nobody gets food or drink past the gate, to maximize profits for concession holders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    Re GS4
    "The company is being paid £300m to supply 10,000 guards for the Games, but the BBC understands it cannot now bring in that number"

    That means every 'guard' will cost £30,000!!!!!

    This is an astonishing amount of money for two weeks work plus a day or two training and uniform.

    -Even more astonishing when you realise the individual staff will only see £600 of it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    Naïve I may be, but isn’t it the job of the Police to protect us?

    Don’t be silly, Theresa May has implemented such severe budgetary cuts on the police, making them under strength and not able to do their job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    When I work i have to provide forcasts, and I am expected to notify people if i'm falling behind programme. I certainly won't get a bonus if i mess up.
    Wonder what the Conservative dominated Government will do for G4S?
    Is this a good omen for their privatisation of the NHS?

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    @388 Peter_Sym

    Any form of attack, regardless of the number of victims, will be a win for any group wishing to take action at the Olympics. Heck, blow up a phone box and the press will be all over it for weeks to come. The press will almost certainly jump the gun and make a meal out of any 'incident'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    "security and policing should fall under the police and military not some MP who might have ties to security companies.
    contractors for military and security shows inept thinking and poor judgement it turns this country into a laughing stock."
    Wonder what Labour MP that was?
    As they did award the contract to G4S!


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