G4S May Not Meet Its Olympic Security Commitments

By Matthew Harwood

A staffing blunder by security giant G4S could mean that British troops will make up the difference to provide security when the Summer Olympic Games begin at the end of the month in London, according to The New York Times.

"Concerns have arisen about the ability of G4S to deliver the required number of guards for all Olympics venues," Home Secretary Theresa May said Thursday. "We have now agreed that it would be prudent to deploy additional military support."

The government of Prime Minister David Cameron issued an emergency draft for an additional 3,500 troops, which would bring the total military commitment to securing the Games to 17,000 if the troops are called up. The troops will join private security forces in protecting at least 100 sporting venues and other sites, including hotels, as the Games get underway.

Under  the contract worth approximately $442 million,G4S would provide 10,400 security guards to conduct airport-style security screenings of spectators, perform vehicle checks, manage queues, among other duties at the Summer Games, according to Reuters. The firm is also responsible for training 3,000 students and 2,500 unpaid volunteers to help. The New York Times' John Burns reports that G4S has conceded that they could miss the mark by a few thousand security guards while the Guardian reports that the firm has 4,000 security guards in place and another 9,000 in the pipeline.

“We understand the government's decision to bring in additional resources and will work with LOCOG (the organizing committee), the military and other agencies to deliver a safe and secure Games," G4S said in a statement. "We have encountered some delays in progressing applicants through the final stages but we are working extremely hard to process these as swiftly as possible."

The Guardian reports that G4S recruits have been shocked by the lack of preparation. "They were trying to process hundreds of people and we had to fill out endless forms,” Robert Brown, a former police sergeant who pulled out of the recruitment process after seeing it up close, told the Guardian. “It was totally chaotic and it was obvious to me that this was being done too quickly and too late."

Other recruits told the paper that “they had received no schedules, uniforms or training on x-ray machines. Others said they had been allocated to venues hundreds of miles from where they lived, been sent rotas intended for other employees, and offered shifts after they had failed G4S's own vetting.”

Yesterday, the company sent an urgent request to the National Association of Retired Police Officers for help: "G4S Policing Solutions are currently and urgently recruiting for extra support for the Olympics. These are immediate starts with this Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday available. We require ex-police officers ideally with some level of security clearance and with a Security Industry Association [accreditation], however neither is compulsory."


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