Given that I spent 50 years in the professional security industry I feel that I have the adequate knowledge and experience of adding my tuppnyworth to the issue of the security provision at the London Olympics.
There was never any hope whatsoever of any private security company providing 10,500 properly trained security guards for this event - it was simply never going to happen. Since the introduction of The Private Security Act 2004, all personnel carrying out security activities have to be registered and licensed by the SIA [Security Industry Authority]. This process requires that ALL security guards and those operating public space CCTV systems receive the appropriate training, are examined and are suitable people to be allowed to operate in a position of responsibility. This involves CRB checks, professional and private references being checked and credit checks.
Admittedly, the examinations that have to be passed would not stretch the intelligence of your average garden snail - they take the form of a tick-box exercise with a choice of four answers provided to each question. Two of these answers will be obviously wrong so any candidate stands a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right even without any detailed knowledge of the question being asked. On top of that, the pass mark is ridiculously low so, anyone capable of standing up unaided and able to chew their own food is pretty much guaranteed to pass.
The UK has never taken private security seriously and I say this as a retired security operative who has worked all over the world. In most countries outside the UK where I have worked, security personnel are highly trained and more particularly, highly respected - here they are seen as cardboard cut-outs with no real power to enforce security protocols unless they are engaged on a military site.
If we are to believe the reports in the media, many of those recruited by G4S have only a passing knowledge of English if they speak the language at all, recruits are paid minimum wage and their living accommodation for the games would shame a Third World country - any wonder that without the proper recruitment and vetting of these people that they turn up late, leave early and are generally not sufficiently trained to a level where they can be trusted to do the job properly.
To be fair, it is not all the fault of G4S. Their original brief was to supply 2,500 guards for the games. It was only when someone realised that this number would not even touch the sides of the actual requirement that the revised figure from the organisation running the show [LOCOG] suddenly leapt to 10,500. The task then became impossible and there was never any hope that G4S would be able to fulfil the requirement and; neither would any other security service supplier. Why didn't G4S managers question the number requirements earlier?
My prediction is that, even with security provision being augmented by members of the Army, their is still a very high risk that there will be a terrorist incident at some stage of the games. It won't necessarily come from foreign terrorists groups but rather from our own "home-grown" groups of Islamic fundamentalists who have been trained at camps abroad. All this is required is that the constituents of a bomb are taken into an Olympic venue by a number of individuals and constructed and detonated on site.
Such an incident will not be the fault of poorly trained and inexperienced security personnel - it will be the fault of a country that refuses to ensure that the proper training, vetting resources are not generally used by private security services purely on the basis of cost.
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