Saturday, July 14, 2012

The fiasco is our fault: As police are called in, Olympics security firm G4S admits it has failed and will forfeit up to £50million

•12,000 officers already due to be on duty at Olympics on peak days
•Move comes two days after 3,500 troops were called in to help
•Theresa May under increasing pressure for her handling of the affair
•Fears G4S will not be able to provide the revised number of security guards
•David Cameron: Firms should face sanctions if they do not fulfil contracts

By Stephen Wright

Security firm G4S finally accepted full responsibility late last night for the fiasco over providing guards for the Olympics.

In an extraordinary admission of failure, the company said it now stands to lose up to £50million on the deal.

The firm hurried out a statement, saying it ‘deeply regrets’ the mistakes which led to 3,500 servicemen being summoned at the 11th hour to plug gaps in its Olympics security operation. The admission apparently followed heated discussions with furious Home Office officials.

Reinforcements: Police patrol the River Lea near the Olympic stadium in a powerboat. Hundreds of extra officers are being drafted in to provide security after security firm G4S admitted they could not cope

It came as the Daily Mail revealed police would also have to deploy several hundred extra officers to do work which should

have been done by G4S guards. Senior police officers welcomed G4S’s apology, but privately expressed fears that it was ‘too little and too late’.

G4S said it accepted responsibility for the additional cost of the increased military deployment.

It is the first open acknowledgement by chief executive Nick Buckles that the world’s largest security provider has dismally failed in its obligations to provide 10,000 staff for Olympic venues since news of the recruitment scandal emerged on Wednesday.

‘The company is also incurring other significant costs as it endeavours to meet the contract challenges,’ the firm admitted.

‘Whilst it is not possible to gauge the precise financial impact, it is estimated that the company will incur a loss on the contract in the range of £35 million to £50 million, all of which will fall in the current financial year.’

It is understood the deduction in pay for the Olympics work will take G4S out of profit on the Games contract.

In its statement, G4S said it had run into difficulties in processing applicants in sufficient numbers through the necessary training and vetting procedures in what it described as ‘an extremely complex workforce supply contract’ on an ‘unprecedented scale’.

‘As a result, we will be unable to deliver all of the necessary workforce numbers,’ it said.

‘We have worked very closely with Locog throughout the build up. At the point we felt that we could no longer assure the scale of the security workforce we had committed to, we advised them of the situation.’

Mr Buckles, who has been summoned to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee next Tuesday, said: ‘We are deeply disappointed that we have not been able to fully deliver against our contract with Locog and that it has been necessary to call upon the additional military personnel. In partnership with the military and Locog, we are working flat out around the clock to resolve the situation. We are determined that together we will deliver a successful and secure Games.’

John Connolly, G4S Chairman, added: ‘It is a significant disappointment to everyone at the Company that we have fallen short of our obligations.’

As the apology was released, the Mail learnt that several hundred extra police are to be drafted into the Olympics security operation to fill the gaps caused by the blundering private firm.

It comes only two days after 3,500 troops had to be called up to help protect the Olympic Park.

The latest move is a major embarrassment to Home Secretary Theresa May, who is coming under increasing pressure over her handling of the affair. A senior security source said: ‘Behind the scenes, some senior officers are seething. They have lost confidence in G4S and are angry that they have been left to pick up the pieces.’

G4S admitted earlier this week it might not be able to provide enough guards, resulting in the Army being called in.

Now, amid fears G4S will still not be able to provide anywhere near the revised number of security guards it has promised for the Games, police chiefs have been forced to put hundreds of extra officers on Olympics duties.

Call up: Hundreds of extra police are to be drafted in to fill the gaps in Olympics security caused by blundering private firm G4S

Debacle: The officers will join an additional 3,500 troops who have been drafted in to help protect the Olympic park

On guard: Two RAF men show off their sniper rifles as the their helicopter hovers over London as part of the Olympic security effort

A total of 17,000 servicemen and women will now be involved in the Olympics, including 11,800 soldiers, 2,600 sailors and marines, and 2,600 airmen

They are expected to carry out basic functions such as guarding entrances, and possibly searching spectators and bags. Around 12,000 officers were already due to be on duty across the Olympic venues on peak days, but this figure is now likely to top 13,000.

The decision to call in extra police was seen as a sign of the complete lack of confidence senior officers have in G4S.

Retired Met chief superintendent Kevin Hurley said: ‘I suspect a number of senior officers who, with their teams, have worked very hard preparing for the Olympics will feel very disappointed at being let down at such a late stage by a private security firm.’

A total of 17,000 servicemen and women will now be involved in the Olympics, including 11,800 soldiers, 2,600 sailors and marines, and 2,600 airmen. Some 11,000 of these will be involved in the security of more than 30 sporting venues and some 70 non-competition venues, including car parks and hotels, while others will carry out specialist support roles. Overall, the security force for the Games will include a mix of military, private security guards and more than 2,000 unpaid London 2012 volunteers.

Pointing the way: A steward directs arriving soldiers to the Olympic Park site using a novelty foam hand

Reinforcements: A group of squaddies walk towards an exit from the Olympic Park

A soldier cycles and carries a second bike on the tow path of the River Lea, where his colleagues are temporarily stationed

Last night it was claimed that management at a G4S vetting centre were aware six months ago that it would not meet recruitment targets it was set to provide security at the Olympics. A former employee told Channel 4 News the company knew in January that there would be serious problems reaching the new level of 10,000 Olympic security staff – a figure revised up from 2,000 by London 2012 organisers Locog in December.

G4S has not yet responded to the whistleblower’s allegations. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said several hundred officers would be deployed at venues in Dorset and the West Midlands to plug the gap left by G4S. Met Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, National Olympic Security Co-ordinator, said: ‘This is not impacting on our existing plans for the safety and security operation, which we are confident we can still meet.’

Thumbs up: London Mayor Boris Johnson greets a security staff member at the Olympic Park and claims the Games will be better because of an increased army presence



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