SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — The military is to provide up to 3,500 extra troops for security duty at the Olympics amid fears that private firm G4S will not be able to supply enough personnel, a Whitehall source said on Wednesday night.
The move, just a fortnight before the Games, is potentially a major embarrassment for organisers Locog and comes amid reports private G4S staff were under-prepared for the games.
The overall 23,700-strong security force for the Games will include a mix of military, private security guards and at least 3,000 unpaid London 2012 volunteers who will be used at the start of the security process.
"Staff taken on don't yet know the first thing about any of the procedures, and that poses a huge security risk. How can a risk management company not have any continuity plans in place for the Olympics?", a manager told the programme.
A G4S spokeswoman said: "Our planning with Locog and other security agencies allows for a variety of contingencies which have been reviewed in the build-up to the Games.
"We accept that the Government has decided to overlay additional resources.
"We remain committed to keep London 2012 safe and secure."
Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to defend G4S in the Commons on Monday, saying she was "confident our partners will deliver a safe and secure Games".
More than 100 different venues need to be protected during the Games, she told MPs.
Tessa Jowell, Labour’s Shadow Olympics Minister said the deployment of troops was clearly a “serious problem.”
“We need to know why the problem has emerged so late in the day and precisely what has been agreed to. We also must know whether this affects Army commitments elsewhere, which units are providing people and what terms and conditions are given for those who will likely lose periods of leave. “
Some 13,500 troops are already involved in a wide variety of Olympics-related roles across the UK, including 7,500 for venue security.
Today's move will boost the number of servicemen and women involved in venue security to 11,000 and the overall number of troops involved in the Olympics to some 17,000, it is understood.
Along with venue security, military personnel will also be involved in specialist support roles including air security, search teams, communications and logistics, among others.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will announce more details about the extra troops tomorrow, the Home Office said.
A spokeswoman went on: "We have agreed to offer help to G4S by revising the level of military support.
"The Government are committing £553 million for venue security and we remain confident that we will deliver within budget."
She added: "The focus of the Government and everyone involved is on delivering a safe and secure Games.
"G4S are Locog's lead contractor for venue security and are being supported by the military.
"Our approach is intelligence-led and risk-based, and we retain the ability to be flexible in our response."
Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Clonel Richard Kemp tweeted:
Olympics. Some of troops who will have to cancel leave etc just been told their battalions to be scrapped or they are being made redundant.
A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The Mayor takes the issue of Olympics security extremely seriously.
"Having the finest, bravest servicemen and woman in the world at our disposal during the Games should be a source of great comfort."— www.shafaqna.com/english