G4S dismissed Olympic Games 'teething problems'


Private security firm G4S initially suggested its problems supplying Olympic guards were “teething problems” which would be resolved, Theresa May said today.

On a tour of the Olympic Park's security centre, the Home Secretary said G4S, the world's second largest private sector employer, told officials last month that any problems were temporary and would be sorted out.

She denied being selective in what she told MPs, insisting that the gap in the numbers only became clear on July 11, not two weeks earlier when the firm first reported problems.

Mrs May said that at the start of the month G4S's problems looked like "teething problems" which they would resolve.

"Crucially, it was not until July 11 that G4S finally said 'Actually we can't resolve those initial problems, we won't be able to provide the personnel'," she said.

Asked what the Home Office was told at a meeting with G4S and Olympic organisers Locog on June 27, Mrs May added: "What happened was there were some early signs of a problem with rostering staff for G4S.

"It was clear that G4S felt they were capable of dealing with that, that it would be resolved, and it was on July 11 as the chief executive of G4S told Parliament, the Home Affairs Select Committee, that G4S said 'Actually, we now believe we cannot produce the staff we were contracted to produce'."

Asked if G4S should have acted sooner, Mrs May said they believed they had identified a "temporary problem which was capable of resolution".

During the visit to the control room with Scotland Yard commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, Mrs May saw G4S staff and others at work in front of a bank of more than 30 large screens covering the park.

She also met Colonel Gary Wilkinson, the venue's senior military representative, and Superintendent Neil Seabridge, the Met's bronze commander at the park today.

Yesterday, Mrs May was accused of giving MPs a "selective account" about when she knew G4S were having problems supplying enough guards.

The Home Secretary admitted the Government and organisers Locog knew there were problems as early as June 27.

It came after the company's under-pressure chief executive Nick Buckles told MPs he was informed of the problems a week later on July 3 and Mrs May told the Commons the "absolute gap in numbers" was not known until July 11.

The number of military personnel involved in Olympics security is now 17,000, including 11,000 who will help secure Games venues, with the rest working in specialist roles.

A further 1,200 are on 48 hours notice to move.

Mrs May said the Government needed to be ready for any contingencies.

But the Government said the numbers of G4S staff were rising and there was currently no need to deploy more military personnel.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Mrs May needed "to explain urgently how she justifies having given Parliament and the public such a selective account, and why the Home Office were so slow to respond".

The details were revealed by Mrs May in a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, said: "The Home Secretary told the House that she only became aware of a shortfall on July 11.

"However, this letter clearly states they were warned of a possible shortfall in guards on June 27 at the Olympic Security Board, two weeks before."

He called for any updates on the figures contained in monthly internal assurance reports to be released and for an explanation of "why they did not ring alarm bells sooner".

While 750 troops were put on 24 hours notice last month, the extra 3,500 servicemen and women who will plug the gap left by G4S were not called in until two weeks later after the company confirmed its "absolute" shortfall.

In a statement last night, a G4S spokesman said the firm "believes that, even if some or all of the additional troops now on standby were to be deployed, the overall losses to be incurred on this contract would remain within the previously stated estimate of £35-£50 million."


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an innovative a...

Recruitment Genius: Production Technician

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Production Technician is required to join a ...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer - Hosted Telecommunications

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for a Ne...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor / Partner - Cheltenham

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: A very rare high level opportunity with a fir...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower