The government was on Sunday accused of “compromising” security at the London Olympics after a private firm contracted to provide security staff said it would not be able to deliver enough people in time for the Games which are less than two weeks away.
The company, G4S, said it had been able to sign up only 4,000 of the 10,400 staff it had been contracted to provide prompting calls for an independent inquiry into the fiasco.
As organisers struggled to deal with the crisis, soldiers returning from Afghanistan were rushed to plug security gaps at the Olympics stadium in East London.
G4S, which stands to lose up to £50 million in penalties and fines for reneging on its contractual obligations, was forced to apologise.
Its chief executive Nick Buckles said the company had “underestimated the challenge” of recruiting and training 10,000 people. He said he discovered that things were “going wrong eight or nine days ago”.
Home Secretary Theresa May was under pressure to explain when exactly she learnt that G4S was facing problems after it emerged that the Home Office had been warned about it ten months ago. Ms. May told the House of Commons last Thursday that she was informed about the scale of the crisis only the previous day.
The Opposition Labour Party said the government must take responsibility for the fiasco as it failed to monitor G4S.
“You can’t just give people a tonne of public money and say, ‘oh well, now it’s your responsibility’. No, security is the government’s responsibility and if they contracted out they can’t just wash their hands of it, they’ve got to take responsibility,” its deputy leader Harriet Harman told Sky News.
Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), assured that the security of the Games would not be compromised and a “prudent and judicious” plan had been put in place.
“We will work very hard, we will remedy this. Security will not be compromised,” he told the BBC.