Guarding

Games cost query in detail

by msecadm4921

The spectrum of security at the Olympics – from the military to meet-and-greet volunteers, has been laid out by the Committee of Public Accounts, in its report on preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), initially estimated that it would need 10,000 security guards to secure the Olympic venues during the Games. That number was based largely on information from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester with some information from the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin. The Home Office described this to the committee as an initial ‘finger in the air’ estimate. According to the Home Office detailed planning could not begin until plans for the Games, including the competition schedule and venues, had been completed in early 2011. However, LOCOG did contract with G4S in December 2010 for the provision of 2,000 guards with the remainder expected to come from volunteers and a government funded scheme (Bridging the Gap) through colleges of further education. By the end of 2011, when the Home Office and LOCOG had completed detailed planning, the estimated number of security guards required had more than doubled to a maximum of 23,700 on peak days.
LOCOG has now re-negotiated its contract with G4S to recruit and train the increased number of security guards, and to deploy and manage the security staff during the Games. To help meet what the committee of MPs termed the ‘recruitment challenge’, the Ministry of Defence has agreed to provide 7,500 military personnel to work as security guards during the Games; this is in addition to around 3,300 civilian volunteers. The remaining requirement for around 13,000 will be supplied by G4S. LOCOG and the Home Office told the committee that they are ‘confident’ that G4S will be able to provide all the required private sector security guards.

LOCOG and the Home Office told the MPs that the diversity of the security workforce, including the trained military personnel, would help manage the risk to the security of the Games. LOCOG and the Home Office said, for example, that security roles will be allocated to people with appropriate skills, with volunteers welcoming people to the venues and directing them to search and screening positions, and trained security personnel operating the screening equipment and carrying out searches. The Home Office said that they have received assurance that guards being supplied by G4S will be appropriately skilled and will all be qualified to nationally recognised standards.
The increase in the number of security guards required has nearly doubled the cost to the Public Sector Funding Package from £282m at the time of the 2010 Spending Review, to £553m, including £46 million for the cost of the military. After LOCOG’s re-negotiation of the contract with G4S, the committee noted that there appears to be around a six-fold increase in the number of security guards to be provided by G4S, and the total number to be managed and deployed has more than doubled. However, the programme management costs have increased nearly nine-fold (from £7m to £60m) and operational costs more than 20-fold (from £3m to £65m). Overall, the estimated costs of the contract with G4S rose from £86m in December 2010, when the contract was signed, to £284m in December 2011. The MPs noted that LOCOG did not negotiate a reduction in G4S’s profit margin on the increased security guard requirement.
According to LOCOG the contract with G4S compares favourably with other contracts in place between Government and G4S. In addition, the Home Office said that in its opinion the costs would not have been lower had planning started earlier. However, the MPs added, it is not clear that the increased costs under the contract with G4S reflect only the changed requirements, or whether, they are also the consequence of renegotiating the contract in a non-competitive environment. In addition, the increase in the overall cost of venue security is the main reason why the Public Sector Funding Package is now so finely balanced.

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