According to the BBC senior managers at G4S only realised “eight or nine days ago”, that they could not provide enough security guards for the London Olympics.
The BBC says that the company’s chief executive, Nick Buckles, told them that:
“problems in the recruitment and deployment process were only recently identified. …
the company accepted it had “underestimated the task of supplying staff to the Olympics”.
“We deeply regret that… and we are deeply disappointed. It was a daunting task to supply that number of staff in a short time scale.
“I began to know it was going wrong eight or nine days ago… Basically we are recruiting a large number of people and they are all working through a process of interview, two or three different degrees of training, licensing and accreditation.
“It is only when you get closer to the Games, you realise that the number is not as high as you expect,” Mr Buckles added.”
This is staggering. I remember sitting in meetings three or four YEARS ago when the problems of recruiting sufficient accredited security guards were raised. It was foreseen then that, given the nature of the security industry, that it would be difficult to get enough suitable individuals to commit to the (comparatively short) Games period and have them trained and vetted in time.
In the intervening period I and many others raised the issue and heard reassurances that the security companies involved and in particular G4S were confident that they would have no difficulty managing the situation.
Now to be told that the senior people in G4S only woke up to the problem the week before last is staggering.
G4S is supposed to be the largest private security company in the world.
Logistics is supposed to be their business.
Quite clearly their management information systems leave a lot to be desired.
How could they have not seen this coming? If an organisation knows that it needs, say, 1000 security guards fully trained and vetted by a certain date, if it knows how long the recruitment, training and vetting are likely to take, and if it has its world-wide and UK experience to tell them how many recruits will drop out or turn out not to be suitable, it is not a difficult or complex task to know when you need to start the process. And that time was not eight or nine days ago.
Mr Buckles has also said that he cannot guarantee all the security staff will speak fluent English. Now that’s a surprise too.
So what’s the slogan going to be:
“Come to the London Olympics and you’ll be bossed around in the queue to get into the venue by some ill-trained half-vetted lout but – if you are lucky and not English speaking – there is just a chance he will speak your language.”
G4S will charge Olympic organisers Locog £280m, but (are we supposed to feel sorry for them?) they say they will lose up to £50m on the contract.