London 2012: Olympic Games security 'not compromised'
Published: 20th Jul 2012 07:54:59
The safety of London 2012 has not been compromised by the failure of private contractor G4S to supply security staff, the BBC has been told.
The head of security and counter-terrorism at the Home Office, Charles Farr, said he first learned of problems with G4S in late June.
He said from then on he and ministers monitored the situation closely and put contingency plans in place.
G4S confirmed it could not meet its commitments only on 11 July, he said.
This was, Mr Farr said, after he asked for a guarantee at a meeting of the government's Olympic Security board.
Mr Farr was interviewed for a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Securing the Games, to be broadcast on Sunday afternoon.
He said the introduction of 3,500 troops to plug the gap meant that in some respects there was an even stronger workforce now involved in the security operation.
Home Secretary Theresa May has said the Home Office was told of a "possible temporary shortfall" in G4S security guards for the Olympics on 27 June.
Mrs May had earlier told MPs the government learned only on 11 July that G4S could not fully meet its contract.
But, on Thursday, she said there had been a Home Office meeting with G4S and Games organiser Locog on 27 June.
It was at this meeting that G4S admitted "experiencing scheduling problems" which could see a shortfall of "significantly less than 1,000" guards.
"G4S stated that the shortfall was mainly due to the failure to take account of the fact that large parts of their workforce would be unable to begin work before July 27," Mrs May said.
But she said G4S had been "unable to specify the size of the shortfall", and it was not until 11 July that the company said it would not meet its workforce target.
Mrs May revealed the details in a letter to Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said G4S first admitted recruiting problems in June, but the difficulties only "crystallised" weeks later.
He told BBC Two's Newsnight: "What happened on June 27 was that G4S said there might be a problem, they were behind, but they were confident that they would have the numbers they promised.
"It was only on July 11 that G4S said, 'No, we're not going to get the numbers we wanted,' at which point the plans that had sensibly been put in place in advance were actually put into action."
On Thursday, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that a further 1,200 troops were on standby to be called upon if required.
G4S released a statement saying it was making "good progress" and there were daily increases in the number of people working at Olympic venues who had completed training and accreditation.
The opening ceremony for London 2012 is now just a week away, and will take place at 21:00 BST on Friday 27 July.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced that thousands of Home Office staff will strike for 24 hours next Thursday, when many thousands of visitors are due to arrive in the UK.
The action will include the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau.
The home secretary said the strike was "shameful" as it threatened disruption to people travelling to London for the Games.
Mr Green said contingency plans were in place.
East Midlands Trains staff have also voted to strike during the Olympics, from 6-8 August.
Writing in the Sun newspaper on Friday, London mayor Boris Johnson said people were being gripped by a "paralysing stage fright" ahead of the start of the Games.
"We've got an advanced case of Olympo-funk. We agonise about the traffic, when our transport systems are performing well and the world's athletes are arriving on time.
"We worry about security, when we always planned to have a strong military role in making our Games as safe as possible," he said.
He urged people to "cut out the whining", and to "get behind our team and the Games".
The Great Britain men's football team play Brazil in a warm-up match this Friday and the women's team face Sweden, both at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.
The GB men's basketball team lost 118-78 to the USA in Manchester on Thursday.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. London 2012: Olympic Games security 'not compromised' [Online] (Updated 20th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1441638/London-2012-Olympic-Games-security-not-compromised [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com