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SBD Global/July 25, 2012/Olympics

Games Bring In More Security Guards After Failed Attempt By G4S

An extra 1,200 troops have been called in to work the Olympic Games due to failures by private firms to provide security.
The London Games will host a further 1,200 military personnel to help secure the event, according to Booth & Hopkins of the London GUARDIAN. Extra personnel were deployed after G4S "failed to provide enough private security guards." The move comes amid "continuing fears that the private security contractor's handling of the £284M ($441M) contract remains a risk" to the Games as Friday's Opening Ceremony approaches. U.K. ministers "took the decision on Tuesday morning at a cabinet committee for the Olympics" chaired by PM David Cameron (GUARDIAN, 7/24). Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the decision to bring in more guards "does not reflect on G4S's performance in recent days, which has improved." Hunt added, "G4S numbers continue to rise significantly and we have every expectation that will continue to be the case. However, ministers decided that we should deploy the additional 1,200 troops that were put on standby last week" (BLOOMBERG, 7/24). LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said, "The reason that this decision has been taken is just to absolutely de-risk any aspect of the operation. With three days to go, we just want to make sure this works without any worries at all" (PA, 7/24). In London, Alice Speri noted G4S "will be replaced by local security companies at St. James Park in Newcastle" after failing to provide enough staff to guard Olympic football games there. The northeast England city will host some of the Olympic football matches and will provide 500 local and regional security staff, not by G4S. The Newcastle City Council said, "This function will now be delivered exclusively by people with a stake in the region and its reputation" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/24). 

THE HOLE IS GETTING DEEPER: Also in London, Nick Hopkins wrote the credibility of G4S running the Olympics' security has been "called into further question by claims that scores of trainees are being allowed to 'cheat' their way through tests for the x-ray machines that detect homemade bombs and other weapons." A source reported that trainees who fail the test are being given "repeated opportunities to get the right answers to the same questions, and are also being allowed to confer with others during the exams under the noses of instructors" (GUARDIAN, 7/23). A G4S spokesperson said, "The candidates work through practice modules and the subsequent ‘test’ modules at their own pace on their own PC’s with trainers available should the candidates have any issues. We offer advice and guidance but do not direct candidates in how to dispose items. It is not uncommon or wrong to repeat modules" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/24).

A GOOD FEELING: REUTERS' Mike Collett-White wrote that despite all of the "grumbling by a notoriously critical media and Londoners braced for disruptions to their daily lives, the sense of excitement is palpable" at the London Games, along with the "sun shining brightly after weeks of rain." The early buzz from Monday evening's technical rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony at the main stadium of the Olympic Park "was positive, suggesting film-maker Danny Boyle's unusual, quirky and ambitious vision might just work." Britain's National Olympic Security Adviser Chris Allison said, "I'm very satisfied that we're in a very good place." Allison added, "We've done all the planning, we've looked at the way in which terrorists have attacked in the past and we try to make sure that none of those could get through our security measures" (REUTERS, 7/24).
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