LOCOG To Call In More Armed Forces, Olympics Could Have More Than Afghanistan
The military has been asked to provide up to 3,500 extra troops to guard the London Olympics, "amid concerns that private security firm G4S will be unable to deliver" the 13,700 guards it promised, according to Hopkins & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Concern for the potential lack of guards has forced Ministers "into the last-ditch move only a fortnight before the Games." A Whitehall insider accused the Home Office of "sticking its head in the sand" over the need to deploy extra military personnel. The armed forces are already providing up to 13,500 personnel for the Games – split between the venues and back-up for police. Under the contingency plans, this could reach 16,500 – 7,000 more than are being deployed in Afghanistan. The move will "raise fresh questions over the extent to which the Games will appear overly reliant on the armed forces." Last week it was confirmed that surface-to-air missiles would be located at six sites around the capital, despite protests from residents and some MPs. The issue of "venue security has been the most contentious" for organisers and the government leading up to the Olympics, after LOCOG admitted in December that it "had wildly underestimated the number of staff required to deliver security" at 34 Olympic venues in London and around the country (GUARDIAN, 7/11). In London, Matthew Taylor reported G4S is "considering bringing in staff from other parts of its business empire amid growing fears of a security shortfall." The security company said that it had put employees working on other contracts on standby "as time runs out to train and accredit the number of guards needed to secure Olympics venues." The decision to consider transferring G4S employees has "raised concerns that key parts of the U.K.'s criminal justice system could be left short-staffed" (GUARDIAN, 7/11).