Home Office aware of G4S shortfall
The Home Office’s role in the G4S fiasco has again been brought into focus after it emerged they were warned of a possible shortfall in security staff on 27 June – days earlier than previously claimed.
Theresa May said in a letter to Home Affairs Committee chair Keith Vaz
the possibility of a shortfall had been revealed in an Olympic Security Board meeting in the Home Office, and military troops had been put on standby the next day.
She said: “On 27 June G4S and LOCOG attended an Olympic Security Board meeting at the Home Office and said they were experiencing scheduling problems. They warned of a possible temporary shortfall in G4S deployed numbers from 1 July. G4S were unable to specify the size of the shortfall and could say only that it would be ‘significantly less [sic] than 1000’.”
Mr Vaz responded to the letter asking "why they did not ring alarm bells sooner?".
The revelation comes as 1,200 extra troops will be put on standby to deal with security shortages at the Olympics.
Announcing the move, Jeremy Hunt said the Government was "putting an additional 1,200 troops on standby, reducing their notice to move from seven days to 48 hours".
"They will remain in their current locations but can be called on if we need them during the coming weeks. We hope that will not be necessary but this is a sensible precaution," he added.
Mr Hunt downplayed the importance of the extra troops, suggesting they may not need to be deployed: "Ministers agreed today that there is no current need to deploy any additional troops. G4S numbers are rising and we are seeing an improvement in the company's performance which is to be welcomed."
Earlier Ed Miliband piled pressure on G4S, claiming that it “beggars belief” that they should be trying to claim their £57m management fee for Olympic Games security.
Speaking to reporters this morning, the Labour leader said:
“I don’t think that G4S should receive their £50m management fee for services provided to the Olympics and frankly I think it beggars belief that they think they’re entitled to it, given the comprehensive mess that they have made of the security of the Olympic Games.
"The fact that you’ve got, you know, our troops who are having to have leave cancelled, the police having to step in, the stories from around the country, I cannot believe it’s right for them to receive that fee."
He also hinted that the firm’s chief executive, Nick Buckles, should consider resigning, saying G4S had "serious questions to answer about the fact that it needs new leadership beyond the Olympic Games".
His remarks followed David Cameron last night saying the Government would "go after" the company to recoup the cost of providing troops to cover the Games.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have also called for G4S to face financial penalties over the "last-minute scramble" to provide security, which has seen 3,500 extra soldiers drafted in.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge told BBC News the security problems were "pretty predictable" and promised that she and fellow members would be continuing their inquiries once the games have finished.