London 2012: G4S 'only knew eight days ago' of shortage


G4S Security boss Nick Buckles: "We are very, very disappointed and embarrassed"

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Senior managers at G4S only realised "eight or nine days ago" that they could not provide enough security guards for the London Olympics, the company's chief executive has said.

Nick Buckles told the BBC that problems in the recruitment and deployment process were only recently identified.

G4S will lose between £30m-£50m on the contract, which is worth about £280m.

Shadow minister Dame Tessa Jowell said the "integrity and resilience" of the security plan must be established.

Mr Buckles, who reportedly earns £1.2m per year in salary and bonuses, said the company accepted it had "underestimated the task of supplying staff to the Olympics".

"We deeply regret that and we are deeply disappointed. It was a daunting task to supply that number of staff in a short timescale.

"I began to know it was going wrong eight or nine days ago. Basically we are recruiting a large number of people and they are all working through a process of interview, two or three different degrees of training, licensing and accreditation.

"It is only when you get closer to the Games, you realise that the number is not as high as you expect," Mr Buckles added.


Theresa May said she only found out G4S couldn't deliver the goods last Wednesday. The firm's chief executive said he discovered how bad things were nine days ago. So there were six days when he knew but the home secretary didn't.

That's despite daily meetings between the security firm, the Home Office and Locog, the committee charged with making the Games happen.

The BBC's been told senior level meetings, to discuss security, have been taking place for three weeks. The minister with responsibility, James Brokenshire, has been attending. G4S told the BBC it had always given Home Office officials and ministers "total visibility" about what it was doing, as part of a "transparent process".

Yet the home secretary, and presumably her minister James Brokenshire, didn't know about the failure to recruit until Wednesday.

At the start of last week, Mrs May told Parliament she was confident their partners would deliver.

Labour is urging her to update the Commons saying there are serious questions about the level of oversight. One party source said if ministers were relying solely on what G4S were telling them then that was "just being a patsy".

G4S signed the contract with Locog in 2010 to supply 2,000 security staff to work at Olympic venues.

In December 2011, the Games organisers asked the company to provide some 8,000 more, bringing the total to approximately 10,000 staff.

The value of the contract is about £284m. The company has predicted costs will reach approximately £330m, and estimated loses in the region of £30m-£50m.

Allowing for attrition - reduction in numbers due to factors such as sickness and no-shows - the company had to recruit nearly 14,000 people in total.

About 110,000 people applied for security jobs, and 50,000 were interviewed.

Mr Buckles confirmed on Saturday that 4,000 staff were "ready to go", having been trained and vetted, and received uniforms and instructions about their job.

A further 9,000 applicants were "in the process of being scheduled", meaning they had been trained and have security clearance, but did not have deployment information.

Mr Buckles described the recruitment process as "very complex", with applicants having to be "screened, SIA (Security Industry Authority) trained and licensed, role specific trained and accredited by the Home Office".

He would not confirm exactly what penalty the government was imposing on the company for failing to fulfil the contract. But he estimated the figure would be about £10m-£20m.

'Integrity and resilence'

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has summoned G4S, two government departments and 2012 organiser Locog to answer questions in September.

Start Quote

We are very very grateful to the military for providing this support... We are grateful that they are giving up time with family to help us.”

End Quote Nick Buckles Chief executive, G4S

Mr Buckles has been asked to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee next week.

Dame Tessa Jowell, the shadow minister for the Olympics, said a review into security at the Games should wait until after the event has finished.

She said the breakdown in security planning had been identified and remedied "in a way that the public can have confidence in."

But she added: "The focus now has got to be on nailing this down and ensuring the integrity and resilience of the security plan."

Elsewhere Clint Elliott, chief executive of the National Association of Retired Police Officers, said reports G4S asked his organisation to assist were wrong.

He said: "It is astonishing that G4S can't have recruited these people in a time of high unemployment and at a time when many police officers are being forced to retire early and are actively looking for work.

"G4S claim they contacted us but they never did. What G4S tend to do is rely on the old boys network and word of mouth to recruit people from our organisation - which is okay for small numbers but for 10,000 people you really need something a bit more substantial."

A spokeswoman for G4S confirmed it had not contacted the NARPO. Instead she said it had been directly contacting retired officers whose details were already on its own database.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

Meanwhile, G4S has confirmed all security personnel working at the Games are fluent English speakers.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Buckles said he was "pretty sure" the staff could speak English well "but I cannot say categorically as I sit here today".

The company has agreed to pay for the deployment of 3,500 extra military personnel, to plug the gap in security staff.

Mr Buckles added: "We are very, very grateful to the military for providing this support. To the individuals we are grateful that they are giving up time with family to come and help us.

"Together we will provide a safe and secure Games."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    maybe Locog should have had a direct input, from what i am told the gamesmakers volunteers has been a well run and commended program (60,000 staff)

    i for one will feel safer to go there if the military are on the scene, and why did the organisers think they could do without many professionals when all the other cities that have done the games have involved the military to a larger degree

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    G4S is the World's Third Largest employer. They run security operations from basic door security to full on combat zone security. I've seen them as security from England to escorting VIPs in Costa Rica, and had a friend who saw them in the middle east.

    They are overstretched, far too large, and cannot cope with the logistics of their size.

  • rate this

    Comment number 591.

    586.voice of reason

    "I would really like to know who, or what we are guarding against..."

    For the Olympics? Burger King and Pepsi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    G4S did exactly the same thing when they took over the Overseas Escorting contract for the Immigration Service in 2004. They deliberately didn't train or accredit staff to undertake immigration removals and made false representations to the government to ensure staffing levels were met. This was told to the select committee investigating the death of Jimmy Mubenga, why has nothing changed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    So this 3000 security personnel shortfall will lose G4S £50million? Let's quantify those figures.. 3000 personnel at say £500 per week for two weeks, that's £6m.. say another £4m for training them.. Begs the question; what's the remaining £40m budgeted for? A lot of people are clearly getting very fat off the back of these deals eh Boris?

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    556.John Firth

    So would I, and given their track record I hope there will some form of investigation into how they won the contract in the first place.

    #561 LOL so its righest cliche to suggest that saying, 'promotion based on a good choice of parent/schoolmate is RIFE in the private sectors' is a skewed view of the world. Having no time for left or right myself I find that rather amusing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    My son did the licence course and then spent 13 weeks begging and pleading withG4S to give him a job acceptance letter so he could get 220.00 from the DWP to pay the Security Industry Authority to issue his licence. G4S failed to deliver on time and so I paid for the licence from my pension. But the SIA say it will take 3 months to issue. Its not Britain that's broken, its Parliament, its Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    I would really like to know who, or what we are guarding against.

    Why do we need 10,000 security staff for what is supposed to be one of the worlds great peaceful events?

    Are we still pretending that we are all in the cross-fire of the big bad terrorists?

    Lets hope nobody lights up an electronbic cigarette in the crowd !

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    @RW49 ... there use to be a joke about Group 4, as they use to be called, and that was it use to be known as Group 5 but they kept losing one, which was often the case with prisoners going awol from the company.

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    Crisis Management, Damage Limitation, Endless Apologies, what else? That's the name of the game!

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    The Private Sector is only successful at two activities;

    Manufacturing ( making and selling things.)
    Retailing ( Shopkeeping.)

    Health,Education,Policing,National Security,Roads,Railways,Gas,Water, and Electricity supply should all be Publicly owned and run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    G4S. Formerly Get Out Of Jail Free. And this is the company bidding to provide services to the police, and one of those likely to be involved when the entire police force is eventually privatised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    I think the message we all need to send to this government is that we do not want any privatisation of the police service. If they go ahead look at the clowns who will step in to try and run things and the mess they will make. Theresa May and the government have proven how incompetent they are on many occasions. The public sector should entirely take over the Olympics security not private idiots!

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    G4S and all this parasitic scum such as banks don't create wealth unless you're talking about their back pockets. They only exploit with the full blessing of the Torries & employ people on min. wage, something the Tories were against in the first place.

    Britain needs to be rebuilt in a similar manner to that of the post war era where people benefit & not millionaire tax dodgers & scroungers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    554. Tunbridge_made
    “It's shocking so many on here having a go at a company that CREATES jobs and wealth in this country!!”

    1. At such an awful public money spent: number of employee’s ratio. It is clear that G4S costs this country jobs.

    2. Funnelling public money into the hands of a few people is the opposite of creating wealth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    Look people, I'll tell you this now, you should not be suprised by any news that a Security firm were cutting corners e.g. not doing full CRB checks, hiring anyone, literally people off the streets et cetra and so on. It's the rule not the exception in these companies. I'm suprised that people here actually had to do the tests, normally, they're just given the answers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    I bet the suicide bombers are unable to believe their luck at the seemingly endless folly of the decadent West.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Either the government didn't even ask G4S in December for any details on sensible) assurances that they would be able to increase the security from 2,000 to 10,000 in the short time…in which case the DC & Co have absolutely no business running a country or G4S made false representations in order to gain the lucrative other words committed fraud and should be facing criminal charges

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Gs4 hold a virtual monopoly in security in the UK . Time to re examine their role in this country and their relationship with the government and the "Establishment" . This country has become a laughing stock .

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    Only knew 8 or 9 days ago of staff shortage? Tosh. I attended a meeting with some of G4S's senior IT managers from a G4S division that isn't even responsible for event security, and those guys knew there was a problem 3 months ago.


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