Olympic Security – more political madness, more sensible views from our readers

A few further observations to wrap up the week in terms of the continuing G4S Olympic Security issue. The first is on the Minister, Jeremy Hunt, and his comment on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that,

 “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 promise”.

Well, what can we say? Let’s hope it was just a throw-away line in the heat of the moment, because if he really believes that,  he shouldn’t be a Minister responsible for billions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

Completely normal”?  I can’t believe he’s daft or ill-informed enough to believe it, so we’ll put it down to a slip of the tongue. Imagine the MOD saying, “yes, that nuclear submarine blew up and destroyed Scotland,  but you know, you always get a few contractors who aren’t able to deliver what they promise when we build subs. Shame about Edinburgh”....

Then just to show we're not party political, Labour's Margaret Hodge said something equally silly yesterday:

"The chaos which has emerged over the security contract was predictable and undermines confidence in those responsible for managing the Games".

So, if it was predictable, and you're Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, why haven't you been all over the press for months warning that this was going to go wrong? Of course it wasn't "predictable" (for a start, we didn't know enough about the contract for that to be true) - pure political posturing I'm afraid.

Finally, do have a look at the comments we got on our previous pieces (here and here) around this topic. Very interesting and insightful. Here are a few excerpts, but I recommend you go back and take a look at the whole set. Thanks as always to everyone who adds their wisdom, opinion and views to the mix here...

Let’s start with an excerpt from TimBya’s contribution:

“Surely there must have been a pipeline in which you put raw recruits for them to be turned into trained security staff. You count them in, measure their progress and count them out on completion. Shortages, blockages, rejections should all be picked up in the process so at any point in time you should know whether you are on target…”

And Dan added this:

Timing would be problematic – you don’t want to recruit and train the staff too early, or otherwise there’s nothing for them to guard. It looks like they’ve tried to recruit and train the staff in time for the event, but found out they don’t have the necessary infrastructure to pull it off.  If G4S were under the impression that they would be able to do it, and only realised the scale of the work required at the last minute, then assurances given to LOCOG would only be worth so much…

Paul Crean said (not unreasonably):

It would be interesting to see the contract with G4S! What guarantees did they give at the tendering stage that they would have sufficient resources etc…

Ian Heptinstall asked about the basis for contract award:

I trust G4S weren't chosen purely on low bid price – given the nature of this spend category? If so, then I assume they did some price & cost analysis of the bid prices? I wonder if they assumed that G4S would be employing £8.50/hour “children”. Even a generalist like me knows a key issue with staff agencies is where they get the people from.

Thanks again and more to come on the issue I suspect.

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