Olympics: More Troops Could Go On Standby
The Government is making plans to deploy an extra 2,000 troops to cover Olympic security gaps left by G4S, Sky News has learned.
Another 3,500 soldiers have already had to be drafted in after the beleaguered firm admitted it was not going to be able to provide the 10,400 guards it had promised, taking the full deployment to 17,000.
But Sky’s Defence and Security Editor Sam Kiley has discovered a further 2,000 are also being kept in reserve as a contingency in case there are further issues.
A final decision on whether to officially put this group on “notice to move” will be taken on Thursday – just eight days before the opening ceremony, according to a Home Office source.
The source said: “This comes after very intrusive examination of G4S management and, while we are confident that recruitment targets will be met, it is prudent to make contingency plans of this kind.
“If the decision is taken, it will mean that the personnel will be told to be ready to move but will not be moved.”
Kiley said: “These extra 2,000 personnel, if they are told to be ready to move, will not be able to do anything else. They will be a reserve force there to cover any gaps both in the military but, above all, in G4S’s recruitment campaign.”
The potential further deployment will increase concerns about where soldiers are being housed for the duration of the Games and their living conditions.
“If they get moved in at very short notice, the living conditions they face will be that much more austere,” Kiley said.
“A Home Office source has said, ‘We will look after them.’ What that really means is that they will be going to G4S and saying, ‘We need some money – it’s your mess, you’ve failed to meet the terms of the contract and this isn’t going to come out of public funds.’”
The plans emerged after G4S chief executive Nick Buckles told MPs he wished the firm had never signed the contract to provide security for the Games.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Buckles was forced to agree that the affair had been a “humiliating shambles” for the company, but insisted it will still claim its £57m management fee.
The alarm about staff levels was first raised on July 3 when the boss was phoned while on holiday. On July 11, the firm then formally told the Government it would not meet its obligations.
Home Secretary Theresa May had to go to the Ministry of Defence and ask for thousands more troops to plug the gaps, prompting major concerns about the security of the Games.
Mr Buckles has promised that G4S will pay any costs to the military and police caused by the company’s failure, including for their accommodation.