SBD/July 17, 2012/Olympics

U.K. Army Officials Taking Control Of London Olympics Security Management

Military may supply another 2,000 personnel after already increasing numbers to 17,000
U.K. Army chiefs have been “dispatched to the headquarters of G4S to take a more active role in controlling security for the London Olympics” following the company's “failure to fulfill” its US$390.8M contract, according to Sengupta & Morris of the London INDEPENDENT. The move “marks an escalation in the military's involvement in the saga and results from a sense of mounting concern and anger" about G4S's inability to provide the promised security guards to guard athletes and spectators over the coming month. The military may be “asked to supply another 2,000 personnel, after already increasing numbers deployed to 17,000.” U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May “admitted yesterday the Government still could not predict how many G4S guards would turn up for duty next week at the Olympic Park” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/17). May said that she “could not give exact figures for how many guards would now be supplied by G4S, saying only that the ‘precise balance of the number who will be provided will become clear over the next few days.’” May denied that G4S had “‘deliberately deceived’ the Government, telling MPs that the firm made clear that the problems with ‘workforce supply and scheduling’ only emerged ‘over the last couple of weeks’” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/17). A British government source said of G4S’ computer glitch that failed to send out correct information to security staff, “It seems to depend entirely on a computer programme. It is highly sophisticated, if it works.” In London, Deborah Haynes cites Sunday reports indicating that “as many as 59 per cent of private guards were absent from the sailing venues at Weymouth” (LONDON TIMES, 7/16). London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison: “I’m satisfied that we will have what we need. The plan hasn’t changed. It’s just a mix of people who are delivering it” ("World News," ABC, 7/16). 

LAST-MINUTE MEASURES: In London, Hamilton, Watson, Haynes & O’Connor note, “Hundreds of police officers were drafted in to provide last-minute Olympic security yesterday when G4S staff failed to turn up at football stadiums, athletes’ hotels and training venues.” In Salford, Greater Manchester, “only 17 of an expected 56 G4S staff turned up for work at an Olympic team hotel” (LONDON TIMES, 7/17). CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer reported some venues will "still be short of security guards," so a plan to "reassign local police" was put into action. Parker: "No one thinks these last-minute changes will compromise Olympic security, just the credibility of the organizers” (“Evening News,” CBS, 7/16). The LONDON TIMES’ Haynes cites a source as saying that the military is “taking a much more ‘hands-on role’ in ensuring the security of each Olympic site” (LONDON TIMES, 7/17). Also in London, Booth & Haynes note, “There also remained the possibility last night that even more troops would be put on standby.” However, “no decision needed to be taken until the middle of the week, once the scale of any future gap was better understood” (LONDON TIMES, 7/17).

COMING UP ROSES: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Paul Waldie writes nothing "appeared to be bothering" LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton yesterday. Not the "growing scandal over security, or the smattering of unfinished venues, or the transportation tie-ups." Not even the "pouring rain seemed to get under his skin.” Deighton said the venues “are pretty much ready." He added, "There are always some final bits and pieces, like putting on the look. It has been raining a lot, so at outdoor venues, you sort of wait for the last minute and polish things up and get them ready” (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/17).
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