G4S insider: 'Management never seemed to be in control'

A whistleblower within the company's Olympic operation writes about incompetence behind the scenes

Managerial training consisted of several mainly useless days in a dilapidated school listening to dilapidated tutoring. The class was entirely male and the general intelligence level seemed very low. "What does a terrorist look like?" the tutor asked. A white middle-aged man replied: "Asian, wearing combat gear, and carrying a rucksack." I didn't know if that was a genuine belief, a racist comment or crass stupidity.

The following week, I attended the Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence training. It was given by security industry instructors who peppered their banter with the use of phrases like "coloured people" and "our black and Asian friends".

I eventually got posted to a London venue. There were no handover briefings, no start of shift briefings, no direct chain of command, no sight of operational plans, no involvement in safety and security procedures, no evacuation drills, no easily accessible information.

Teams were split into three general types – the Old Lags, the "Club 18-21" and the DSS people. The Old Lags were experienced security guards who knew the score and were proficient in opening and closing a gate. The "Club 18-21" were kids awaiting A-level results or at university. The DSS people were made to apply, and I suspect pushed through by G4S to make up the numbers. Some had special needs, were on disability allowances, found English hard and were often of low intelligence.

Our G4S team, supplemented by other guards, then moved to a rural Olympic site. The infrastructure, with the heavy presence of the army, gave it the appearance of a vast military base. The perimeter fence was in wooded and hilly fields. There were an expected 20,000 public each day, plus the hundreds of volunteers, media, police, army and assorted staff. It was quickly obvious that G4S would have to recruit the population of a small state to man this.

I will accept no criticism of any guard who may have fallen asleep. The shifts were 14 hours; the bus travel to accommodation sometimes took hours, and the average sleep time was four hours. No wonder non-attendance was so high. It became a constant catch-up to find replacement guards or managers. One manager was removed for sending two female guards on night patrol without a torch, and giving a radio to a guard with a hearing disability. The chaotic scheduling system put people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The inability of G4S to recruit enough staff to mount three shifts of shorter hours, instead of brutal 14-hour shifts, created the problem. Abnormally long shifts meant guards went hours without relief or sustenance, search staff missed things, X-ray scanner operators were unable to take proper visual breaks. Management never seemed in control, as they were never given the resources.

As the big day approached, the general feeling was that G4S were making the place look untidy. Most Locog staff never said hello to the guards in green. So while Mo and Jessica were being applauded on the canteen big screens, multiracial kids working for G4S were being looked down upon.

After the finals, there was a directive that all people were to be searched for stolen goods. I thought they meant bikes, televisions, cameras. No. Locog meant bits of plastic, cardboard, discarded bibs and any detritus that would be thrown away. G4S staff had to undergo unwarranted abuse as they searched people. The police were eventually called in.

I've seen great things. I've shaken hands with Olympic medal winners. I've even liked Boris Johnson. But it worries me that G4S is still getting government contracts and taking on policing roles. Nick Buckles [G4S chief executive]: you have generally abused the British taxpayer, and moreover abused your staff. You should get the sack, and a haircut.

In a statement, a G4S spokesman said yesterday: "These are unsubstantiated claims and therefore not appropriate for us to respond to as we do not recognise them to be true."

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
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

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit