I don’t imagine this will fill visitors to the Olympic venues with much confidence that they are as safe as the British government can make them.
Newspaper accounts have told of recruits hired for essential security tasks at more than 100 sites — including the main Olympic stadium, which seats 80,000 — falling asleep during training sessions, or preparing for high school and college exams only desks away from instructors teaching them how to search bags and spot concealed bombs and weapons.
Instructors for G4S, the private company that has a $440 million contract to provide 10,400 guards for the Games, have complained of facing rows of recruits who speak little or no English.
One tabloid published a photograph, which it said had been taken at a training session, that showed a young woman slumped at her desk, apparently sleeping, with a youth alongside her apparently listening to music through earphones.
The account, in The Daily Mail, told of recruits repeatedly failing to spot fake bombs and grenades during X-ray training, and clearing people through security during their training without spotting hidden weapons, in one case a 9-millimeter pistol stuffed into a “test spectator’s” sock. The paper quoted one whistle-blower, whom it described as having a military background, as saying: “Some of the people on that course you would not hire to empty a dustbin. You are talking about really poorly educated, slovenly slobs.”
Reports have also said that many of the recruits are in their late teens, with no previous work experience.
Others have spent months or years unemployed, and on government welfare benefits, according to officials with knowledge of Olympic planning who asked not to be identified. Newspaper reports have said that among those who have completed their training and been deployed to Olympic sites, dropout rates have been as high as 50 percent, and many others have missed shifts or shown up hours late.
The Times of London put it succinctly:
“Let’s no longer beat about the bush,” The Times said. “This summer’s Olympic Games are going to be a catalog of disasters. Not everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Only lots of it.”
The original Daily Mail report is filled with examples of what it calls a “pre-Olympic meltdown”:
But the revelation that an army of students are playing a key part in the biggest security operation in Britain since World War II added to the unease.
They have been recruited from colleges under a scheme called ‘Bridging the Gap’ and have attended four-day Security Industry Authority (SIA) training courses to qualify as guards.
Many of the students were 17 when they were trained, but rules stipulate they must have turned 18 by July 1 to be taken on for Olympics security work.
Following each course, the students undertook another day’s training in the use of X-ray and metal-detecting equipment.
An informed source, close to G4S Olympics recruitment procedures, told the Mail: ‘I have grave concerns about the deployment of college students as security guards.
‘They are effectively sixth- formers, and putting aside their immaturity, their lack of life experience makes it very difficult for the authorities to vet them comprehensively.
Part of the problem is that the security plans underwent a radical overhaul last year when the FBI and CIA warned that the arrangements were inadequate to protect against a terrorist attack. There was a five fold increase in the number of private guards and military personnel. The private security company overpromised on its ability to hire and train enough guards — who might be useless anyway judging by the caliber of their training and the raw human material the trainers have to work with.
I sincerely hope everything is going to be fine and visitors will have a safe and enjoyable time at the games. But a competent terrorist would eat these rookie “security” guards for lunch.
About the best the British government can apparently hope for is that any terrorists who have a mind to kill people will be as ill trained and incompetent as the people who have been hired to stop them.