Olympic security failure is not ‘completely normal’

17 July 2012
On The Andrew Marr Show last Sunday culture secretary Jeremy Hunt contended the failure of G4S to deliver its contractual commitments was “completely normal”. When asked by Marr whether he was angry or felt betrayed by the contractor for having only come clean about being more than 6,000 security guards short with less than a fortnight to go until the opening ceremony, he said: “I think it’s completely normal that you’re going to find some contractors, on a project of this size, who aren’t able to deliver what they promised.” On one hand, that’s fair and accurate. Contractors are not immune to failure and certainly don’t always deliver exactly what they promised for the cost originally forecast. Considering the size of the Olympics and the amount of contracts let, it was almost inevitable some contractors would come a cropper, and to expect otherwise would be perverse. But when the company contracted to provide more than 10,000 security guards for the games is less than halfway there with days to the start of the games, well, that’s a little less than normal. So far, ministers Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and James Brokenshire and G4S chief executive Nick Buckles have only learnt of the short fall in the last week or so. There is just one person I know of to have said they knew of an issue before this – London mayor Boris Johnson. If you had been in charge of the Olympic security contract, how would you have ensured that the required number of guards was delivered?
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