Monday, 16 July 2012

Olympic Security

Unless you have been living on another planet, you will be aware that the main news topic at the moment is the unfolding fiasco of Olympic security.

The main contractor has some serious staffing issues, and the Westminster Government has a few problems of their own. A ministerial head could roll for this. And I think the Defence Secretary is the prime target.

Additional service personnel are having to be drafted to make up for the shortfall of privately contracted staff, many of whom apparently did not turn up for work. I'm not going to descend into tabloid journalism here, with accusations of non-English speaking staff and whatnot. There could be many reasons for the failure to recruit properly, and having had substantial experience within the recruitment industry, I know just how difficult things can be.

The key concern is the use of additional Armed Forces personnel, some of whom have been drafted at short notice, with holidays cancelled in some cases - a fact confirmed by the Defence Secretary.

Serving personnel are fully aware that they may be assigned duties at very short notice, causing such problems. This is something you accept when you sign up.

But cancelling holidays because of a complete balls-up on such a major project is absolutely unforgiveable, especially with the recent announcement of yet more redundancies.

Boris Johnson was on yesterday defending this. He pointed out that service personnel were in attendance at Wimbledon. But what he did not tell you, and few of you will actually be aware, is that those attending Wimbledon are all volunteers who must use their own annual leave entitlement to do so. It is a very popular duty considering you get to see world class tennis for free.

Those attending the Olympics are not so fortunate. No doubt there will be some who will want to be there, but carrying out stewarding duties at the grass courts is far more interesting that doing stag at some checkpoint. And judging by the latest news reports basic accommodation and leisure facilities have yet to be sorted.

The Armed Forces are highly trained in security duties, and will carry out these duties in a highly professional and efficient manner.

But to use them in such a way to effectively cover the organising committee, G4S and the Government is both embarassing and insulting.

The whole issue is a disgrace.

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