London 2012 security not compromised, says Coe

Soldiers at the Olympic Park Lord Coe said servicemen and women would do an "extraordinary" job in providing security

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Security for the Olympics has not been compromised by the failure of G4S to recruit enough security staff, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe has said.

It emerged last Wednesday that 3,500 troops were being drafted in to plug gaps in staff provision.

"We will work very hard, we will remedy this - security will not be compromised," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Meanwhile, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman told Sky News the government had failed to properly monitor G4S.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper also said there had "been fantastic work delivering the venues and so on but it's not just about G4S letting the country down - why on earth did the Home Office not know what was happening?"

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said Labour is hoping Home Secretary Theresa May will go to Parliament on Monday to update MPs.

The party thinks there are "serious questions" for Mrs May over the extent to which the Home Office had oversight over the contract, our correspondent said.

G4S has said it stands to lose up to £50m on the contract, worth a total of about £280m, after being unable to provide the 10,000 staff it had been contracted to deliver.

'Judicious plan'

Lord Coe said 100 venues and more than 2,000 sessions of sport meant "this comes together in stages and when the rubber really hits the road, that's when plans collide with reality and that's the reality of security".

He added: "I can't put it more simply than this, G4S expected people to materialise and when they didn't, as the home secretary has said, we moved very quickly to fill that gap."

A "prudent and judicious plan" had been put in place, he added.

"This is not about numbers, this is about the mix."

He added: "I'm in the Olympic Park every day - we've got 4,000 trained G4S personnel in the park and they've been there for some years and they've been doing a spectacularly good job."

On Saturday, G4S chief executive Nick Buckles told BBC News he only "began to know it was going wrong eight or nine days ago".

He said that, as large numbers were being interviewed, trained, licensed and accredited, "it is only when you get closer to the Games you realise that the number is not as high as you expect".

Mr Buckles indicated in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that he "could quit" over the fiasco.

Inspectors' concerns

Mrs May has said she was made aware of the scale of the problem at G4S only last Wednesday.

Earlier reports that security minister James Brokenshire attended daily senior level Olympics security meetings were incorrect, the Home Office said.

Start Quote

We are just very lucky to have fantastic armed services who can come when we need them”

End Quote Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt

A spokesman said the meetings with department officials, G4S and organisers Locog - which have taken place for the past three weeks - were not focused on the wider G4S recruiting problems, but on issues such as the lockdown and roll-out of venues.

But the government has acknowledged that inspectors raised concerns 10 months ago about security planning for the Olympics.

It said September's confidential report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary had identified a number of issues, but it insisted these were all resolved by February.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the government had "of course, been monitoring the situation with G4S and their management told us right up until last week that everything was on track".

"But we've had that contingency plan for many months and we are just very lucky to have fantastic armed services who can come when we need them," he added.

He said G4S had been "honourable" in admitting their mistakes and paying for the extra military personnel.

Committee questions

Mr Buckles is due to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday to answers MPs' questions.

Tony Hewitt successfully applied to be a G4S Olympic security guard, but has heard nothing since

Its chairman, Keith Vaz MP, told BBC One's Breakfast he would be asking how the shortage of staff had only been recognised at such a late stage as well as questions about whether all G4S staff were prepared.

"I have had many emails and texts from people who have been contacted by G4S when they had applied for a job with them six months ago," he said.

"They were contacted a couple of days ago to ask whether or not they were ready to start in two weeks' time."

G4S said it had "encountered some delays" in progressing applicants through the final stages but was working "flat out" to process them as quickly as possible.

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

Meanwhile, the Olympic Village in Stratford will officially open on Monday with Heathrow Airport saying it will be its busiest day for the arrival of athletes.

The first of the Olympics motorway lanes will also become operational, close to Heathrow on the M4 eastbound between junctions three and two.

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