UK & World News
Minister: Games Security Is Not A 'Shambles'
The Home Secretary has denied security at the Olympic Games is a "shambles" after another 3,500 soldiers had to be drafted in to bolster guard levels.
Theresa May was forced to ask the Ministry of Defence to provide more troops after private contractors G4S admitted they did not have enough staff.
The Government found out about the exact shortfall on Wednesday and quickly had to boost the number of soldiers working on the Games to 17,000 - almost a fifth of the entire Army.
The move, two weeks before the opening ceremony, puts Olympic arrangements under fresh scrutiny and is a major embarrassment for organisers, Locog.
It follows from the closure of the M4, a key Olympic route, because of a damaged flyover and amid ongoing questions about border staff levels at Heathrow Airport.
Mrs May, in a Commons statement after Labour demanded an explanation from the Government, said she knew the country could rely on troops to deliver a safe Olympics.
"The Government's overriding priority is to use all resources necessary to deliver a safe and secure Olympic Games and that's what the public and the House would expect," she said
"The security operation has been meticulously planned, it will be the largest and most complex security operation in this country since the Second World War."
Troops are being allocated 7,000 tickets for the dress rehearsals for the opening and closing ceremonies on top of the 10,000 Olympic and Paralympic tickets already assigned to them.
G4S is expected to have its payment docked because of the problems but Mrs May said this was up to Locog, who agreed their contract.
However, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the situation looked like another "Home Office shambles" and Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, described it as a "fiasco".
London Mayor Boris Johnson, speaking at the Olympic Park, insisted: "Everybody is concerned to put the final nails in place - we always expected loads of military and I think they'll do a great job. The key thing is that it's going to be a safe and secure Games."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted increasing troop levels will put an extra burden on soldiers but promised they would be left out of pocket and would still receive their full leave.
The deployment comes as the Army reels from the announcement that it is losing 17 major units, including five infantry battalions, in its biggest restructuring for decades.
Assistant commissioner Chris Allison, head of Scotland Yard's security operation, has previously insisted the sporting event will be a "blue Games", despite the presence of the military and surface-to-air missiles being positioned near the Olympic Park.
Security consultant Christian Cullen told Sky News it was "completely insane" to be enhancing military numbers now, after seven years' planning.
Overall, a 23,700-strong security force will include a mix of military, private security guards and at least 3,000 unpaid London 2012 volunteers.
G4S said the security recruitment and training process had been "unprecedented and very complex" and admitted that it had encountered problems with its workforce. It said it was committed to keeping the event "safe and secure".
In May, the firm said as many as 100,000 people had expressed an interest in the 10,000 security jobs available and that it had already interviewed more than 80,000 for the roles.
The private security firm contract is worth £284m from a £553m security budget, A further £600 has been allocated to the police operation but the Home Office hopes to deliver it for £475m.
what do you think?
We expect our armed forces to do everything for us, from risking their lives in foreign wars to having to stand in for private security guards. . All the time our criminal politicians are ripping all the armed forces apart. . . My respect for our soldiers is matched only by my disgust for our politicians
Your comment deserves more than just a thumbs up!
Very well said Stevie. Seeing as a lot of the troops they are using for this will be given the boot afterwards. I think it is disgusting that they can do this to our troops. You don't hear them complaining about doing the job, knowing what they are going to face afterwards.
The amount of Taxpayers cash that has been flushed down the Olympic toilet never to be seen again is honestly disgusting. It realy makes me angry knowing the billions that have been put into this steaming pile while at the same time we have public services screaming for cash but being denied even tho there underfunded. To those that say it will pay for its self well this is not the case it is already operating at a massive loss and economic experts predict only a small economic boost
Anyway, the real story of the Olympics will be the rain. . Watch as the opening ceremony is washed away by the torrential downpour, watch as millions of pounds of fireworks are barely seen due to heavy cloud. . . Dont ya just love this country ?
if i was a terroist i would be planning to attack somewhere else in this country forget the obvious target as it seems to be overloaded with so called security . also i bet bombs are already planted within the buildins waiting to be set off remotly . obviously G4S are incompetent they have had plenty of time , but then the army are cheaper .
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d and d Phillips
3500 troops. Gosh that's nearly half the army!
It's actually 1/3rd of the army. The other 7,000 are split between various other countries and the rest are running around different bases in the UK trying to make it look like there are more of them. Of the 3,500 patrolling the Olympics, 90% are on sick leave from the real action. This is just a cushy job they can do while they recover from their ailments. Meanwhile we have mercenaries hired from different nations doing the really skilled combat work.
stevie M You are bang on with those comments, Lets ask the question in a few months time when its all over, And see how its benefitted the people of the UK.
Another con G4S will be raking it in private companies in the public purse.
For many of these soldiers and sailors this will be the last couple of months in the uk before going on operations and potentially never return. I wonder how these 'leaders' sleep at night knowing they are forcing arned forces to stand in for a firm which has already been paid... Makes me sick!
I worked for G4S a few years ago (not by choice, i was TUPE'd over) and they were a terrible company, always using skeleton staff but not telling the client, therefore getting paid for staff that were not there. I see nothing has changed. Where's the brigade going to come from? Are they growing soldiers like Star Wars stormtroopers now?
Two warships!!! are they patrolling the olympic rowers? Typhoon fighter jets, are we expecting a battle of Britain mk2 over London again? Find another 3500 troops after we (sorry, the sh*t now running the country) have announced the biggest most criminal act of treason with the wholesale decimation of our forces? In fact I think decimation would be a smaller cut than proposed! If this is what it takes to host the Olympics then it's a great shame Paris didn't get the chance to hold it. We must be the laughing stock of the world, only I don't find it remotely funny!
Seeing on a web site I visit a member there had applied for work with G4S he states that they were totally disorganised with their training and consequentlythey have run out of time. In the end they offered him work at 1 days notice of training which was not possible.
What a waste,what is it with Group 4. This is not the first time they have messed up
So who are they going to draft in once they've finished making their cuts? When will G4S be told to pay back the money for the security they haven't provided? And when will this sham of a government admit that they've done a dreadful job with everything and that they couldn't run the proverbial in a brewery? At least we know we'll be safe where the army are working
Simple make G4S pay for the soldiers while they are over here. Another example of this company making a profit out of the public purse and failing. Look at the prisoner transfers they mess up. We need to look at why the UK Government keeps employing them.
I bet they dont pay any of that 300 million back they were payed though surly they have had enough time to get this sorted out it aint as if we were awarded the games a month ago but now its been left to our forces who have already had there budget cut and some going straight on duty after coming back from afganistan when they should be spending time with there familys what a joke
These private contracts are clearly being awarded on a nod,wink and special handshake at the golf club basis. This G4S outfit has had how many years to prepare and yet are blatantly unfit for purpose seemingly unable to organise a drinks session in a brewery let alone protect the public. Still - never mind at least the suits at head offfice will be getting their bonuses.
...FEE AS CO !!!!!!
..I WANT SOME MONEY SPENT ON THE ROADS AROUND HERE, POTHOLES EVERYWHERE
Whats the betting that this sick excuse for a government are right now preparing P45's for many of the armed forces involved immediately following this scandalous fiasco.