Olympic security:

Now the Army is giving the orders

As foreign athletes start to arrive, military sends officers to G4S HQ to tackle security shambles

Army chiefs have been dispatched to the headquarters of G4S to take a more active role in controlling security for the London Olympics, The Independent has learnt, following the company's failure to fulfil its £250m contract to guard the Games.

The move marks an escalation in the military's involvement in the saga and results from a sense of mounting concern and anger within Whitehall about G4S's inability to provide the promised security guards to guard athletes and spectators over the coming month. It will be viewed as a further wounding blow to the firm's credibility.

Police officers from nine forces are also now being drafted in to bolster the security operation at Olympic venues and athletes' hotels after G4S staff failed to appear.

The military may be asked to supply another 2,000 personnel, after already increasing numbers deployed to 17,000 following the failure of G4S to present the full quota of guards needed for the Olympics.

The planning for further reinforcements has been hampered, however, because both G4S and the Games organizers, Locog, have been unable so far to specify in which areas the latest shortfalls have occurred.

The dispatch of Army officers to G4S headquarters follows a growing feeling in the Ministry of Defence that it would be necessary to set up a combined headquarters with the military taking a more active role in the overall command of the Games.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, admitted yesterday the Government still could not predict how many G4S guards would turn up for duty next week at the Olympic Park. In her second emergency statement in four days on the crisis, she insisted ministers were only alerted to the crisis last week. But her version of events was contradicted by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Currently, General Sir Nick Parker is the head of the Standing Joint Command for the security contribution of the armed forces, with G4S running its own operational centre, which has seen the arrival of three more officers from the military in the last few days to work alongside others already there.

But with such large numbers of forces personnel now involved in the security operation, MoD officials believe there has to be closer integration. A senior Whitehall official said: "It's become obvious G4S not only needs help with the numbers but also administration. That's the reason a small number of extra military personnel have been sent in. This may have to be increased and there's a case for further integration when it comes to command and control."

Nick Buckles, the embattled chief executive of G4S, will today be pressed by the Commons' Home Affairs Select Committee on the extent of the security shortfall and why ministers were not alerted earlier to the looming crisis.

Asked in the Commons how many guards would be supplied by G4S, Mrs May gave no figures, replying: "The precise balance of the number who will be provided will become clear over the next few days." Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: "It is incomprehensible that with 11 days to go the Home Secretary still doesn't know how many staff G4S are likely to provide."

Ms May repeated her insistence that the Home Office only discovered on Wednesday G4S would not be able to supply enough guards. But Mr Johnson said it emerged six or seven months ago the "sheer volume of security, the need, was perhaps greater than expected... Everybody organising the Olympics knew this was coming up... ages ago".

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "This is the world's biggest security company – it's got 650,000 employees. They could have used some employees – 10,000 isn't a large proportion. Instead G4S choose to recruit from scratch for the greatest show on earth." His committee is to summon Ms May to give evidence about the debacle, as well as Charles Farr, head of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, who is in charge of the Olympics' anti-terror strategy.

Security sources pointed out that although G4S is getting pilloried for the security debacle, part of the problem was caused by a cabinet committee headed by David Cameron approving a 500 per cent rise in the numbers of security guards from the original total of 2,000 in December. The request was passed on by Locog, which accepted the assurance of G4S they could deliver the extra numbers without problem. "G4S saw more pound signs and Locog didn't scrutinize at all the process G4S had in place for all this" said one official.

A MOD spokesman said: “Olympic Security remains a civilian and police led operation which has not changed. For many months the MOD has been working closely with G4S with military personnel embedded as Olympic security plans have developed. As you would expect, the level of liaison has increased as the Games has drawn closer and the military contribution has increased.”

G4S in numbers

657,000 Number of G4S employees. The company operates in 125 countries

£7.5bn Annual turnover last year for the firm, which was founded in 2004

£1bn Turnover in the UK, where it employs 45,000 staff

6 The number of UK prisons it runs, plus three secure training centres and two immigration centres

8.7 The percentage fall in G4S's share price yesterday

£300bn The value of the cash transported around Britain by G4S each year in its 2,300 secure vehicles

Suggested Topics
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
Voices
voices Furore is yet another example of shameful Westminster evasion, says Nigel Farage
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
News
peopleThis time as he’s awarded the Freedom of Stirling and handed an honorary degree
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Sport
sport
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor Needed Nottingham/Derbyshire

£3360 - £16800 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Cover Supervisor requ...

English Teacher

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Urgently Required. En...

Supply teachers needed in Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are looking ...

Geography Teacher

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents