Army anger as troops forced to cover G4S Olympic security fail
World's biggest security firm mocked for blaming 'workforce supply' issues at time of record unemployment
ARMED FORCES chiefs are reportedly furious with London Olympics organisers and the Home Office after it emerged that extra troops will have to step in to provide security at London 2012 because of a failure by G4S to fulfil its £300m contract.
G4S, the world's biggest security firm, which provides a range of outsourced police support services in the UK, was supposed to provide 10,000 guards for the Games. Yesterday it emerged that the firm would be unable to meet its obligations due to "some issues in relation to workforce supply and scheduling over the last couple of weeks".
The armed forces, already providing 13,500 men and women for the Olympics, will now be asked to supply another 3,500, and it might be necessary to cancel summer leave for some troops. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will provide details of the armed forces' expanded role later today.
Hot on the heels of budget cuts which will lead to the loss of 17 Army units, the news has angered defence chiefs, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Gen Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, is said to have "personally raised concerns about the management of Games security with Olympic organisers".
A senior military officer suggested the Olympic work was insulting to troops, saying: "It is very demeaning that highly professional soldiers and Marines who have served two or three tours of duty in Afghanistan now find themselves doing bog-standard security checks because the Olympic organisers can't get their act together."
Channel 4 News reports that G4S faces financial penalties on a per venue, per day basis for failing to meet its contract obligations. It adds that senior managers have been demoted.
Labour's shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said it is "imperative" that "the full and necessary quota of security personnel are in place so that the Games will be safe and secure". She also questioned whether the use of troops at the Olympics would affect army commitments elsewhere.
Keith Vaz, a Labour MP and chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, said Home Secretary Theresa May and G4S must explain what went wrong "as a matter of urgency", Sky News reports.
Elsewhere, a number of commentators have made the link between G4S's protestations of "workforce supply" and Britain's historically high levels of unemployment.
Channel 4 reporter Faisal Islam tweeted: "Near record youth unemployment, yet G4S and the government can't recruit enough staff for something in the diary for SEVEN years."
Others have suggested that with the vast majority of the 23,500 Olympic security guards now being troops, some spectators might find the Army presence oppressive.