G4S contract was 'notable blemish' on Olympic Games

24 April 2013

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24 April 2013 | Helen Gilbert

G4S has once again come under fire for its failure to provide enough security guards at the London 2012 Olympic Games with MPs branding the situation a “sorry episode”.

Venue security was described as the “notable blemish” on planning for the event, in the Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) post-Games review, which examined the staging of the Games and plans for delivering the legacy.

The report, based on evidence from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Home Office, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Ministry of Defence, G4S, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Cabinet Office, stated the scale of requirement for venue security was vastly underestimated.

The estimated cost of providing venue security – more than £500 million at the time of the hearing – could only be met from the public sector funding package due to underspends elsewhere, the review found.

“In the event, G4S failed to provide the full number of guards required, and has paid a price for that failure,” the report stated.

“The Home Office should capture and share the lessons from the letting and delivery of the security contract to prevent such a failure happening again, focusing on the importance of taking early and timely decisions, developing a full understanding of capabilities, capacity and costs, and ensuring adequate public transparency around any settlements.”

Margaret Hodge, Labour MP and chairwoman of the PAC said: “Following the extraordinarily successful 2012 London games, a mood of confidence and pride swept the nation – and a feeling that this country can get big projects right… Equally the public sector must learn from the things that went wrong, like venue security and the availability of tickets for the general public.

“We all want the momentum of the Games to be maintained. They need to be shown as having longer-term consequences for this country. The legacy programme is therefore crucial and must be delivered in full.”

A G4S spokesman said: “We’ve read the PAC report findings with interest and we’ve taken those [recommendations] on.”

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