Independent on Sunday exclusive:

Exclusive: May 'was told 10 months ago of G4S failings'

Police watchdog raised issues over security firm, concerns echoed by ExCeL Games venue

Theresa May was last night under pressure to explain whether she could have averted the Olympics security fiasco as it emerged that the Home Office was warned 10 months ago that there were problems with the ability of G4S to provide security for the Games.

A confidential report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary was presented to Home Office ministers in September 2011, which should have raised alarm bells about the readiness of G4S.

The report by the police watchdog into Olympics security preparedness – which has never been published – raised serious issues over G4S last year, The Independent on Sunday understands. It is not known whether the Home Secretary personally saw the report or whether it only went across the desk of James Brokenshire, her junior minister. But given Mrs May's ultimate responsibility for policing and security during London 2012, she will be under pressure to explain why the crisis came to a head little more than two weeks before the opening ceremony.

The Home Secretary told the Commons last Thursday that the shortfall in guards which G4S could provide became clear only the day before, when the Government announced it was deploying 3,500 troops to cover the shortage.

In her statement, Mrs May said: "We were receiving reassurances from G4S until very recently, and the absolute gap in numbers was crystallised finally only yesterday."

Opponents point out the Home Secretary's careful choice of words could mean she was aware some time ago there was a general shortfall – raising questions over why it was left so late in the day to act.

In another development, ExCeL, the largest competition venue at the Games, last night revealed it had been raising concerns with Locog, the London 2012 organisers, about the handling of security by G4S for several months.

Lord King, the former Conservative defence secretary and a director of the ExCeL exhibition centre in east London, said that doubts about G4S's security plans had been "an ongoing saga for some time".

Last night, former Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who headed security planning for the Olympics, said the problems were "predictable". "I just couldn't understand, when I was planning for it, how you could give such a contract to one company. Venues like Wembley already have their own security, and it is just logical to give it to those who are doing it day in and day out." He said he also fought against the responsibility for operational planning going to the Home Office. "I was pushing for it to be kept in the Met. They already plan 3,000 to 4,000 events a year."

As the row over Olympics security escalated, the IoS can also reveal:

* An insider said the root cause of the problem with G4S was its internal computer system which had failed to calculate staff rostering.

* David Cameron will convene a regular Olympics Cabinet from tomorrow to run throughout the Games, acting as the Government's crisis committee. London's mayor, Boris Johnson, will also attend.

* G4S won the security contract with Locog after submitting a tender at least 25 per cent lower than any other, which would have been hugely attractive to a British Olympic movement paranoid about going over budget.

* Hundreds of British soldiers face being stuck in Afghanistan for weeks longer than planned because of the knock-on effect of delays to training and holidays. One senior army source said bomb-disposal personnel were most at risk.

Nick Buckles, the G4S chief executive, apologised directly to troops yesterday as he revealed that the firm faces a penalty of up to £20m for failing to deliver on its £284m contract, as well as paying the Ministry of Defence for providing the troops, meaning the total loss will be up to £50m.

Three months after the critical HMIC report was handed to the Home Office last September, G4S's contract to provide 2,000 staff increased to 10,400 personnel. It is not known whether the December increase was as a direct result of the police report, but 2012 insiders said that the leap in numbers should have forced the Home Secretary to keep a closer eye on G4S.

A senior source involved in organising the Games said concerns were circulating before the report was published. "For 18 months, there has been a worry about there being enough people," he said. "I am surprised that senior people at the Home Office didn't ask these questions."

Mr Buckles, who faces a grilling by the Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday, said that he had realised only "eight or nine days ago" that there would be a shortfall. But he insisted the company had kept both the Government and Locog fully informed about what was going on.

Managers at ExCeL, which will stage boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling, were stunned when G4S told them the in-house security staff would be "stood down" for the duration of the Games, to be replaced by inexperienced new recruits.

"We managed to get sense on that," Lord King said. "We have been anxious to establish what the situation is, anxious to know who was going to be handling security. It has been an ongoing saga for some time."

Lord King added that new personnel numbers had to allow for G4S staff and troops getting caught in Tube and road queues expected across the capital. "Whatever numbers the Army puts in, I hope that includes a safety margin to plug the gaps."

Company file

* Founded in Copenhagen in 1901, G4S, based in Crawley, now employs 657,000, making it the world's third largest private sector employer behind Walmart and Foxconn.

* Turnover last year was up 4 per cent to £7.5bn. The Olympics fiasco has wiped £140m off its value.

* It provides security at 14 UK airports and four ports. It also runs six prisons, four children's homes and two immigration centres, and tags 14,000 offenders. It is responsible for security at 500 police stations and 30 custody suites.

* It makes 640,000 private ambulance journeys each year, delivers £300bn in cash in a fleet of 2,300 vehicles and takes 39 million meter readings for utility companies in the UK.

* In December, it paid £17m for Chubb Emergency Response, a key holding and mobile patrol business that covers 22,000 sites.

* It provides security for Wimbledon, golf's Open championship and all the party conferences, but lost a European Parliament contract.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Tony Blair’s time as Middle East envoy representing the US, Russia, the UN and the EU has come to an end
voicesRobert Fisk: How come a war criminal ever became a 'peace envoy' in the first place?
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada