Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

London police not planning more Olympics officers, chief says

By Richard Allen Greene and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
July 19, 2012 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
  • NEW: The government puts 1,200 more troops on standby for the Olympics
  • The government is already deploying 3,500 military personnel to cover shortfalls
  • Met Police not planning to boost numbers at this stage, chief says
  • British lawmakers forced the G4S chief to concede security was a "shambles"

Share your Olympics sights and sounds with CNN iReport.

London (CNN) -- An additional 1,200 British troops are being placed on standby for the Olympic Games, authorities said Thursday, amid a security fiasco caused by a contractor's failure to supply enough guards for the Games.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is in charge of the Games, said that there was no need to deploy extra troops but that putting 1,200 on standby means they can be moved within 48 hours rather than seven days if required.

"Safety and security will always have the highest priority. As we have said, we must prepare for every contingency," he said in a statement.

The extra troops will remain in their current locations but can be called on if they are needed during the coming weeks," he said.

"We hope that will not be necessary, but this is a sensible precaution," Hunt said. "There will be other challenges over the coming weeks, but we are confident that we are on track to stage a great Games."

The Olympics open July 27.

Hunt said that G4S, the contractor whose shortcomings have led to the shortfall, was showing progress in recruiting and accrediting staff.

"We are seeing an improvement in the company's performance, which is to be welcomed," he said.

Hunt's announcement came hours after the head of London's Metropolitan Police said it is not planning to boost the number of officers covering the Olympic Games.

"I'm confident we will not need to put more officers into it at this stage," Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told members of London's governing body, the Greater London Authority.

Scotland Yard has not been asked to police any Olympics venues, said Hogan-Howe, the country's top police officer.

Olympics Min.: Contractor was a let down
Troops brought in for Olympics security

The Games organizing committee LOCOG is responsible for security at Olympics venues, he said, while police officers will be on duty outside venues.

UK government downplays Olympics security snafu

The Home Office is in overall charge of security, he said.

"There are many aspects to security. We are not in charge of security. We are responsible for policing outside the events," Hogan-Howe said of his force.

"In the event something terrible happened, the police would get involved, as would the fire service," he added.

The chief executive of G4S, Nick Buckles, faced a grilling Tuesday by lawmakers furious at the security situation.

British lawmakers forced Buckles to agree that the fiasco is "a humiliating shambles."

Buckles said the company should not have agreed to provide 10,400 guards for the Olympics, six days after the security giant admitted it could not do so.

"We regret signing the contract," Buckles said under pressure from lawmakers.

Is Olympic-level security already under way in Britain?

The company's failure forced the government to call in 3,500 extra military personnel to help.

Both the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office had rejected media reports on Wednesday that a further 2,000 troops were being tapped.

"We are constantly reviewing the extent of the G4S shortfall and the military contingency force. There are currently 11,000 military personnel assigned to venue security, alongside G4S staff and accredited volunteers," the Home Office said.

G4S has a £284 million ($444 million) government contract to provide security staff for the Olympic Games, but only 4,000 guards are trained and ready.

Buckles said there was a company "expectation" that 7,000 will be ready by the time the Games begin, although he called the exact number "a moving target."

London orchestra plays train sounds
Getting to the Games
London's transport ahead of the Games
'The busiest airspace in the world'

Lawmakers appeared incredulous at the chief executive's assertion that G4S should still claim a £57 million ($89 million) management fee as part of the contract.

Guarding the games

"Why?" demanded Keith Vaz, the chairman of Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. "You haven't managed."

Hammered by Vaz for saying he was "disappointed" about the failure, Buckles first said he was "deeply disappointed" and then that he was "sorry."

Labour lawmaker David Winnick then laid into Buckles, insisting several times that the snafu was "a humiliating shambles."

Buckles finally said he could not disagree.

The company will reimburse police forces that have to provide officers to cover for G4S shortfalls, and will "consider" paying bonuses to military and police who are called in to help, he said.

Buckles said he knew for certain on July 11 the company could not fulfill its contract, he told the committee, which is looking into security for the Games.

The company accepts "100% responsibility" for its failure, and is "extremely grateful to the military and police for helping us out," Buckles said.

Athletes fret on lost bus as Olympic arrivals begins

Closing the session, Vaz said lawmakers considered the company's performance "unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish" and implicitly suggested Buckles should resign after the Games.

The G4S recruits are supposed to perform tasks including venue perimeter security, such as manning X-ray machines, searching people, searching vehicles and operating closed-circuit television systems, G4S said Sunday.

G4S has said that it stands to lose up to $77 million after failing to recruit enough staff.

See how Heathrow is preparing for the London Olympics

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Disappointment for Nigeria's Muizat Ajoke Odumosu, who came last in the 400m hurdles final, London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 0738 GMT (1538 HKT)
Fans of the home side, Team GB, wave Union Jack flags during the Olympic Games
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 0305 GMT (1105 HKT)
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt celebrate their success at the London 2012 Olympic Games by copying each other's
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
August 15, 2012 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Team GB supporters with their faces painted in Union Jack designs at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
The colors of the Olympic Rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, August 2012.
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Wojdan Shaherkani's Olympic debut was short, but sweet -- the Saudi judoka said competing at the Games was
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
August 8, 2012 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
August 3, 2012 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
August 4, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Ricardo Blas Jr
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?