Few can deny that the failure of G4S to find and train enough applicants for the marshaling and security of the Olympic venues is incompetent. However, it appears Home Secretary Theresa May and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt are a part of the few.
While it is possible to forgive their need to talk up the Games, with only around ten days to go to the opening ceremony, it is not so forgiveable to demonstrate such a lack of personal responsibility in reacting to the problem earlier.
When we won our tender to stage the 2012 Games – almost 7 years ago – LOCOG accepted the bid of G4S to handle all the logistics, training and deployment of security personnel. The original contract was substantial. The contract had to be renegotiated when it became apparent that LOCOG had underestimated the number of personnel needed to fulfil its brief. The amount for the contract then increased massively to a reported £280m. According to a TV report, last week, that figure equates to a per person costing of around £26,000.
Let’s just ignore the fact £26k is a massive amount of money to charge for the services of a security guard for under two months and, instead, concentrate on the inability of G4S to find enough applicants in time for the deadline.
Despite there being almost 2.5m people unemployed in the UK and given the prestige and opportunity of being able to attend the Games, whilst being paid for doing so, there were, apparently, not enough people eligible to fill the vacancies. This fact only became public last week.
There followed a new Olympic sport of ‘Pass The Blame’ with ‘personal bests’ being set every day. The Home Office deny being told at all; G4S say they advised the Home Office several weeks ago and Jeremy Hunt says ‘didn’t they all do well’ by reacting with a pre planned contingency operation.
That operation involves a minimum of 3,500 servicemen being drafted in to cover the shortfall – and, of course, the collective arses of G4S, May and Hunt.
G4S say they are likely to lose up to £50m on their contract. They are not, however, publicising that they are still likely to receive around £230m for organising such a cock up.
Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are saying a lot, but nothing very plausible (no change there) while I am sure most of the servicemen, and their families, are saying things that are unprintable having lost their entitlement to annual leave!
Of course, once the Games are over, and the dust has settled, the memory of this incident will have disappeared along with the fireworks from the closing ceremony.
I just hope the rest of the world is impressed by our professionalism.
Picture courtesy of ODA