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Police dragged in for Olympics

G4s’s Buckles says Olympics shortfall was humiliating failure

Image Credit: Reuters
Soldiers pass the Olympic Stadium in the London 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford, east London on Tuesday.
Gulf News

London: Police have been dragged off the beat to work on the Olympics after dozens of G4S security guards failed to turn up for work, it emerged on Monday.

Just four of the 58 staff expected to report for duty at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, showed up, one of whom later disappeared.

In Salford, Greater Manchester, only 17 of the 56 G4S staff due at another Olympic team hotel could be bothered to present themselves for work.

Home Secretary Theresa May admitted on Monday that she has no idea how many G4S staff will turn up for work - raising the prospect that thousands more soldiers may have to be deployed, on top of the 3,500 who have already been called up.

'The precise balance of the numbers that they will be providing will become clear over the next few days,' she told MPs.

The political pressure was also growing last night as a series of leaked documents revealed that some officials have known of the problem for at least three months.

May claimed that ministers were told only last week that G4S could not deliver the 10,000 security guards it promised. But she was directly contradicted by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who said: 'Everyone that was organising the Olympics knew this was coming up ages ago.'

An internal G4S memo leaked last night revealed that the company's bosses deliberately failed to train people early because it would not be 'cost-effective'.


The chief executive officer of G4S, Nick Buckles, said his company’s inability to provide security staff for the London Olympics was a humiliating failure.

Facing UK lawmakers on Tuesday to explain his company’s staffing shortfall that forced the government to send in more soldiers and police, Buckles said he informed the Olympics delivery committee, Locog, of the breakdown on July 3. Theresa May said she knew of the shortfall eight days later on July 11.

Asked by Labour lawmaker David Winnick if it was a “humiliating shambles for the company,” Buckles answered, “I can’t disagree with you.”

“It’s not where we’d want to be,” Buckles told lawmakers. “To get 10,000 people plus on the ground has been a huge logistical challenge. We didn’t know the contract was not going to perform until very late on because the whole process is very back-ended in getting people ready for the games.”

Buckles apologized again for the shortfall in staffing by G4S, the world’s largest security company, which led to 3,500 extra troops being deployed. Officers from nine police forces have also been drafted in to bolster security at athletes’ accommodation and games sites.

Buckles said his future position in the company is “not my current concern.”

‘First Priority’

“My first priority is to deliver as many people as we can on this contract,” he said. “I feel I am the right person to make sure this happens.”

The BBC reported today that only 20 of a promised 300 security staff showed up at an Olympics cycling center today. A call to G4S wasn’t immediately answered.

Separately, G4S won’t be charged over the death of a man restrained by three of its guards at London’s Heathrow airport on an Angola-bound aircraft in 2010.

There isn’t enough evidence for a trial because medical experts gave several potential causes for the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who was being deported from the U.K., and there’s no proof a “sufficiently senior person” at G4S made a criminal failure to act, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today.