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 617.

    Alex #17 - the fuss is about G4S being paid £284 million up front and being unable to fulfill the contract. One more private sector company fleecing the country for hundreds of millions and being unable to fulfill its promises.

    And people have a go at the public sector for costing too much money...

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    This government has all the trademarks of a Restoration comedy were the situation not so serious. Daily there is something to lament as this government lurches from horror to deeper horror.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    how the hell could you pay these clowns 300 MILLION for a few weeks work? Oh i know, because a member of the board is chairman of the “Chairman’s Group” of London 2012 sponsors.

    Quicker than you could say "back hander" 300 million goes into their wallets. You couldnt make it up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    A "Private Security Company".......they're not gonna be the sharpest tools in the box are they.

    Not that our Police Force is without fault but
    this lot are supposedly being lined up when our Police Force is flogged off.


    A very blunt instrument I would imagine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    G4S should not be awarded any new contracts and have all its existing ones reviewed immediately.

    This company has proved on many occasions that is not competant to provide security services yet it continues to win business. Why ? What are the links to the government ?

    From ticketing, to merchandising & sponsorship this London Olympics has a nasty taste about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    @599 Peter SYm
    "Soldiers legally can't just assume the job of the police and much of this 'security' will be low grade stuff"


    You've not read the emergency powers the Cabinet have voted in then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    Umm it all pretty strange to me, G4S couldn't guard a baby, Israel's President can't make the opening ceremony as it will disrupt his Sabbath and he is not overtly religious and extra troops on standby on the tops of blocks of flats, lets put it this way if anything happens on that day or in fact any day during the games it will not surprise me, Conspiracy theory no conspiracy possibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    G4S is run by a gang of half-witted incompetents. My son has been to loads of training courses in preparation for the Olympics. This morning he was told to go to Portsmouth from London at 4-30am to do yet another course. On arrival, he found he'd been sent to do a basic course when he'd already passed the advanced one with flying colours. Doh! Want a bunch of muppets...

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    Ugh, bring on my time away. Fed up of this private enterprise lets-make-as-much-money as possible Olympics games already.

    This message was bough to you by VISA, Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and McDonalds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    Wouldn't be a bad idea if G4S were prevented from taking any more government contracts. But going by recent history it seems that such firms are always allowed back in the game.

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    Again this government shows it's thoroughly nasty side. It gives out P45's, cuts holidays, rushes men and women to what appears to be a potential war zone - and then after all it will be sacking these selfless professionals. Something is surely wrong at control central?

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    As a retired RAF officer, I was involved in regional MACA at the time London was selected as the 2012 Olympic venue, and right then we 'flagged up' the inevitable request for such assistance, and with only 2 weeks to go to the opening ceremony has reality dawned amongst the political classes. The bill for this extra MACA commitment must surely be passed to G4S and not the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 605.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    579. The problem with privatising public services is that most of them are a "captive market", so the consumer can't vote with their feet. e.g. if you don't like First Bus' service, you probably can't just switch to Stagecoach. So it's up to the contractor to ensure that competitive motivations force improvement. If the contractor is in the company's pocket, that's not going to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    G4 training aimed too high they were offering longer door security courses intead of security guard, which was all that was required resulting in more people failing and longer courses. Another problem was no show on courses, and the admin


  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    Yet another farce of a contract with a private services company, I know that the dogma of late is that private enterprise does things better but clearly they don't. We have seen huge sums wasted on Welfare to work contracts with A4e, Working links etc. and now this. I hope our armed services, currently undergoing redundancy, won't feel too put upon. Perhaps some contract due diligence is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 601.

    If, as reported, there is no specific security threat to the Games, then why are 24000 security guards needed? Paranoia?

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    Has anyone worked out if we still have enough troops left to defend us? The Falklands are very vulnerable if all our troops are in the Olympic Village. Oh and what would have happened if we ahd reduced our troops to a really low level? Perhaps another defence review is needed to ensure we have enough defence staff for all our needs including aid to the civil power. I suspect it will be needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    #586 a good point but a can of worms too. The procedures needed in order to allow the SAS to go into the Iranian embassy were quite long winded. The senior cop basically has to say he can't manage & pass the request up to the home secretary who in turn gives the military permission to act. Soldiers legally can't just assume the job of the police and much of this 'security' will be low grade stuff

  • rate this

    Comment number 598.

    G4S should be sacked along with May--Osbourne-- Green--Hunt and of course Cameron. They will be remembered in history for all the wrong reasons.


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