Atlantic Cities
Olympics 2012

Throughout England, Signs of Security Shortages

Throughout England, Signs of Security Shortages
REUTERS

London is bracing for an upcoming security staff shortage, and other Olympic-hosting cities around the U.K. are seeing signs of trouble.

Already short on employees, G4S has been unable to get everyone to show up for their shifts. At a hotel in Manchester, only 17 of the expected 56 G4S staff turned up for work to guard athletes. According to the chairman of the Greater Manchester Police authority, the shortage forced the local police force to reassign officers from front-line duties.

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The shortage in Manchester is just one example of a company-wide failure by G4S. The company has been devalued by about $625 million since it publicly admitted it would not be able to fulfill its contract for the Summer Games.

In an interview with the Telegraph, G4S's Chief Executive, Nick Buckles, said he's "disappointed" by the company's ability to fulfill its Olympic contract so far. He also seemed unsure of his future, saying, "I have got to make sure we deliver this contract. What happens thereafter is down to others. It's a big setback for us, we are really disappointed with how this has turned out." 

In the same article, Buckles disclosed that he would not accept a bonus on top of his $1.3 million annual salary. This will be the second straight year he won't have one.

Ian Edwards, West Midlands Police Federation chairman, said in another Telegraph piece that his force has had to provide 150 officers per day to cover a hotel in Warwickshire where soccer players are staying. Edwards referred to the staffing issues as "chaos, absolute chaos."

Chairman of Dorset Police Federation, Clive Chamberlain, said that  "[o]n a daily basis it's a lottery as to how many staff are going to turn up." He also expressed concern that the private security company could be scrambling for last-second hires, saying his biggest fear is "that G4S are now panic-recruiting people to get as many people as they can into the organization. Two weeks before the Games, we are going to have hundreds or thousands of people that are going to need to be properly vetted, that comes down to the police."

G4S is now expected to lose up to $78 million on their Olympic contract.

 

Keywords: London, Manchester, Security

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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